CNUP Training Faculty

Sarah B. Berman, M.D. Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Neurology

M.D. University of Pittsburgh (2000)
Ph.D. University of Pittsurgh (1998)

Office: 7037 Biomedical Science Tower-3

Mitochondria in neurodegeneration

Research Summary:

Dr. Berman’s research focuses on the role of mitochondria in neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Parkinson’s disease, and her laboratory is evaluating the role of mitochondrial dynamics in neurodegenerative diseases. Mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles in cells, are very dynamic in neurons, undergoing frequent division (fission) and fusion, and being transported in a regulated fashion. These processes are critical for synapse function and formation, programmed cell death mechanisms, and protection of mitochondrial DNA. Changes in mitochondrial dynamics are increasingly being linked to neurodegenerative diseases. However, these mitochondrial processes have been very difficult to study directly, particularly in the brain. Using novel methodology, Dr. Berman’s laboratory directly studies the role of mitochondrial dynamics in neurotoxicity/neuroprotection in chronic Parkinson’s disease models, aging, and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, with the goals of elucidating important mitochondrial mechanisms in neurodegeneration and providing potential new therapeutic targets.

Selected Publications:

VanLaar, V.S. and Berman, S.B. Mitochondrial dynamics in Parkinson’s disease Exp. Neurol., In press.

Berman, S.B., Chen, Y., Qi, B., McCaffery, J.M., Rucker, E.B., Goebbels, S., Nave, K.-A., Arnold, B.A., Jonas, E.A., Pineda, F.J. and Hardwick, J.M. Bcl-xL increases mitochondrial fission, fusion and biomass in neurons. J. Cell Biol. 184(5) 707-719, 2009.

Berman, S.B., Pineda, F. and Hardwick, J.M. Mitochondrial fission and fusion dynamics: the long and short of it. Cell Death Differ, 15(7), 1147-52, 2008.

Berman, S.B., Watkins, S.C. and Hastings, T.G. Quantitative biochemical and ultrastructural comparison of mitochondrial permeability transition in isolated brain and liver mitochondria: Evidence for reduced sensitivity of brain mitochondria. Exp. Neurol. 164 (2): 415-425, 2000.

Berman, S.B. and Hastings, T.G. Dopamine oxidation alters mitochondrial respiration and induces permeability transition in brain mitochondria: Implications for Parkinson’s disease. J. Neurochem., 73, 1127-1137, 1999.