The Mitochondria Research Laboratory (MRL) focuses on three research topics:

  1. The identification and characterization of inherited mitochondrial disorders in the South African population;

  2.  Cell biological responses and metabolomics of mitochondrial energy deficiencies;

  3.  The involvement of energy metabolism and mitochondrial DNA in non-communicable diseases.


These research topics are structured around the involvement of the mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) system in human diseases.  Defects in the mitochondrial energy metabolism (i.e. OXPHOS system) is not only the largest group of congenital metabolic defects in humans, it also contributes to the pathology of various other major diseases causing death, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease) and cancer.  This type of research is thus particularly relevant in South Africa because of the socio economic and genetic diversity of the population and the very rapid rise in the prevalence in these diseases in African populations.