by Buck Institute

Martin Brand, PhD, Joins Buck Faculty

Martin Brand, PhD, has joined the faculty at the Buck Institute for Age Research. Brand, known internationally for his work on mitochondria, the structures within the cell that generate energy, is establishing a laboratory at the institute with diabetes as part of its research focus.

Brand’s diabetes research involves particular mitochondrial “uncoupling” proteins involved in the dissipation of energy in cells. This research has opened up new potential drug targets for the treatment of diabetes and obesity, which is a major risk factor for the disease.  Diabetes affects seven percent of the U.S. population. The most common form of the disease, type 2 diabetes, increases with age. In type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells become resistant to utilizing the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy.

Brand’s research also focuses on mitochondria and their production of damaging reactive oxygen species, also called  “free radicals”. According to experts, the most prominent theory of aging postulates that mitochondrial free radicals are the main cause of the cellular damage that results in aging and age-related disease.

“We are very excited to welcome Martin Brand to the Buck Institute,” said David Greenberg, MD, PhD, Vice President of Special Research at the Buck Institute. “He is an international authority on changes in the function of mitochondria, which have been implicated in the aging process and in degenerative diseases associated with aging. Several of our current projects involve the study of mitochondria. We are gratified that scientists of Martin’s stature want to join the Buck and see it as an optimal place to carry out their research ,” Greenberg said.

“I am pleased to join an Institute where the focus is on the aging process and the diseases of aging,” said Brand. “I am keen to take on the role of resident advisor on mitochondrial bioenergetics to a group of scientists who consistently demonstrate great work and share my own interest in understanding the connection between aging and disease.

Brand, who most recently was a Group Leader at the Dunn Human Nutrition Unit of the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, UK, had already been involved in collaborative studies with Buck faculty member David Nicholls, PhD, FRSE, before he decided to move his lab to the Buck. Brand is developing additional research projects with Buck scientists who use mass spectrometry to study protein interactions, as well those studying dietary restriction and lifespan extension, oxidative stress and longevity, the impact of antioxidants on mitochondrial free radicals and Parkinson’s disease.

Brand received his PhD from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Bristol in the UK. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD and then a faculty member for more than 20 years at the University of Cambridge. Brand has published more than 250 peer-reviewed studies, appearing in prestigious journals including NatureThe Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesCell Metabolism, Diabetes, Aging Cell and The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Science is showing that while chronological aging is inevitable, biological aging is malleable. There's a part of it that you can fight, and we are getting closer and closer to winning that fight.

Eric Verdin, MD, Buck Institute President and CEO

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