The Sancak lab will probe how mitochondria, which provide the cell with energy, interact with other subcellular structures. Mitochondria play a central role in many vital biological processes, from driving cell metabolism to regulating cell death. To assess the cell’s needs, mitochondria make contact with other subcellular structures, called organelles, and with the membrane that surrounds the cell. But what exactly happens during these moments of physical interaction is unclear. Do the participants swap proteins or other signaling molecules? And how does their behavior or composition change as a result of the exchange? In preliminary studies, I was able to capture mitochondria as they engaged with three different organelles. Now, combining this approach with an array of techniques in biochemistry, molecular genetics, and cell imaging, my lab will characterize the proteins and metabolites mitochondria take away from these interactions, and determine how perturbations in these exchanges lead to the changes in mitochondrial distribution and function associated with diseases such as neurodegeneration and cancer. This work could identify novel therapeutics for such mitochondrial disorders.