Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

Mitochondrial Transport and Function in Neuronal Health and Death

NSUR 81N
Prerequisites: 
High school biology

As our population continues to grow older, age-dependent neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS are becoming more prevalent and thus pose a danger to public health nationwide. Effective treatments are desperately needed, however, we still know very little about how neurons die in those diseases. One organelle that is especially important to neuronal health is mitochondria, the power plant for the cell. In this IntroSem, we will learn how neurons employ molecular machinery to regulate, transport, and distribute mitochondria, and importantly, how these fundamental regulations are compromised in neurological disorders. Students will participate in hands-on labs to learn imaging mitochondrial transport in live cells using confocal microscopy. The labs will take place during class time and are located at the beautiful Arastradero campus, which is easily accessible by bike or the free Marguerite shuttle and provides a unique opportunity for freshmen to explore Stanford campuses and adjacent areas. 

Meet the Instructor(s)

Xinnan Wang

"I earned an M.D./MSc joint degree in clinical medicine and genetics in 2003 at China Medical University and a Ph.D. in genetics and neuroscience in 2007 at University of Cambridge. I conducted postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School from 2007-2011 before I began a faculty position at Stanford University in 2012. My laboratory focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying mitochondrial dynamics and clearance in neurons and how even subtle disturbances of those processes may contribute to neurodegeneration, and specializes in live-imaging technologies. I regularly teach axonal transport and mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases to Ph.D. and M.D. students."