Research in the Affourtit lab aims to clarify the multifarious roles of mitochondria in health and disease. Informed by real-time functional measurements of cellular and mitochondrial bioenergetics, we try to understand in particular how mitochondrial function affects glucose-stimulated insulin secretion by pancreatic beta cells and insulin responsiveness of skeletal muscle. Defects in insulin secretion and action that arise in obesity are both features of the Metabolic Syndrome, a cluster of medical disorders that collectively increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Current projects focus on (1) the extraordinary bioenergetics of beta cells, (2) mitochondrial involvement in beta cell glucolipotoxicity, (3) the bioenergetics of fatty acid-induced insulin resistance of skeletal muscle, and (4) the molecular mechanism by which dietary nitrate improves human skeletal muscle function.
Our beta cell work is in collaboration with Dr Martin Jastroch (Helmholtz Diabetes Center) and with Drs Thomas Solomon and Jonathan Barlow (University of Birmingham) and our work on the skeletal muscle effects of reactive nitrogen species with Professors Paul Winyard and Andy Jones (University of Exeter).
Moreover, we offer specialised expertise in mitochondrial biology to collaborative projects on the role of mitochondrial dynamics in neurodegeneration (Professor. Kim Tieu, Florida International University) and on involvement of mitochondrial dysfunction in the pathology of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (Drs David Sheridan and Daniel Felmlee, University of Plymouth).
Dr Charles Affourtit
Associate Professor (Reader) in Mitochondrial Biology.