Back to the Future at Mitochondrial Medicine 2020

UMDF is excited to announce that Robert Naviaux, MD, PhD, and Richard Haas, MD, are our scientific meeting co-chairs for Mitochondrial Medicine 2020 in Phoenix.  Dr. Haas is a neurologist at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego as well as director of the Mitochondrial Disease Laboratory and a professor at University California San Diego (UCSD). In 1994, Dr. Haas established what is now the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center and laboratory at UCSD as a facility dedicated to the research and clinical evaluation of mitochondrial disorders.

Dr. Naviaux is a Professor of Genetics in the Departments of Medicine, Pediatrics and Pathology.  He directs a core laboratory for metabolomics at UCSD.  He is an internationally known expert in human genetics, inborn errors of metabolism, metabolomics, and mitochondrial medicine.  He and Dr. Haas identified mutations in mitochondrial polymerase activity as the cause of Alper’s syndrome, a devastating childhood mitochondrial disease.

Doctors Haas and Naviaux organized the symposium scientific program in 2001 – hence this year’s scientific/clinical program theme:  “Back to the Future“.  We asked Dr. Naviaux the following questions about the upcoming scientific/clinical program for Mitochondrial Medicine 2020.

What takeaways do you hope scientists and clinicians will have after attending?

Progress in mitochondrial medicine has always come at the crossroads of basic science and clinical medicine.  This year, there will be sessions on stem cells, gene therapy, the biology of aging, and the special role of mitochondria in autism.

Explain in your own words the importance of having scientists and clinicians interact with patient/families at these annual meetings.

Each year, we receive reports from scientists and clinicians alike about how meaningful it was to be able to speak with families affected by mitochondrial disease from across the country.  The families give scientists and clinicians their inspiration, and scientific progress gives the families hope for a better future.

What is new this year that sets this meeting apart from others?

There are two new features this year – a special session dedicated to “Mitochondria in Space” in which speakers from NASA will report on the biological challenges to long-term space flight posed by changes in mitochondrial function that occur in microgravity and another will be a special session on Autism Spectrum Disorder.