Marc Vermulst, Ph.D.

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Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Department: Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
The Colket Translational Building
6th Floor - Room 6014 CTRB
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 267-425-2117
Lab: 267-425-3071
M. Sc. (Biology)
University of Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands (Molecular Biology), 2002.
University of Washington, Seattle, WA (Pathology), 2008.
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Description of Research Expertise

The primary goal of my lab is to understand the mechanistic basis of the aging process. Understanding human aging is perhaps the most important goal of modern medicine today, since most diseases that are currently endemic in Western society are age related diseases. Thus, if we had a deeper appreciation for the aging process itself, we would be in a better position to treat, or prevent various diseases, such as cancer, heart failure and neuronal degeneration.

This rationale shapes the research we do in our lab and ensures that our experiments are always at the crossroads of basic biology and medical urgency.

Proteotoxic stress: Many age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, are caused by proteotoxic stress. When examined, the neuronal networks of these patients are crowded with protein aggregations that impair cognitive function. To delay the progression of these diseases, and ultimately to prevent them, it will be important to understand how protein aggregation is initiated. We have found a link between DNA transcription and proteotoxic stress that helps explain the etiology of these diseases.

Stem cell biology: Stem cells are the most important residents of our tissues. They replenish cells that are lost over time, and give rise to specialized groups of cells that are required for tissue homeostasis. Accordingly, age-related changes in stem cell behavior may contribute to the decline in tissue function seen with old age. To investigate this possibility, we are studying stem cell dynamics as a function of age.

Mitochondrial DNA dynamics: Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. They supply our cells with energy and mediate numerous processes that are essential to human health. As we grow older, mitochondria decline in function, and this can have a negative effect on cells with a high metabolic load, especially muscle fibers and neurons. Although the mechanisms behind this age-related decline are unclear, it is thought that mitochondrial DNA is a central component of this problem. Our goal is to unravel mtDNA genetics at a subcellular level to understand why mitochondrial function declines in aging muscle cells and neurons.

Carcinogenesis: Cancer is one of the most common age-related diseases in humans. To successfully treat cancer, it will be important to identify the Achilles’ heel of tumor progression. A deeper understanding of the cellular dynamics that drive tumor growth could contribute to this effort. Our goal is to unravel the complex cellular dynamics inside a growing tumor mass to expose new targets for treatment.

Selected Publications

C. Fritsch, M. Vermulst: Transcription errors: A new horizon for mutation research. Journal of Visualized Experiments in press 2018.

Meagan J McManus, Hsiao-Wen Chen, Martin Picard, Hans J. De Haas, Prasanth Potluri, Jeremy Leipzig, Atif Towheed, Alessia Angelin, Partho Sengupta, Ryan M. Morrow, Brett A. Kauffman, Marc Vermulst, Jagat Narula Douglas C. Wallace, Cell Metabolism: Mitochondrial DNA Variation Dictates Expressivity and Progression of Nuclear DNA Mutations Causing Cardiomyopathy. Cell Metabolism accepted 2018.

S. Haroon, A. Li, C. Fritsch, N. Ericson, J. Alexander-Floyd, B.P. Braeckman, C. Haynes, J. Bielas, T. Gidalevitz, M. Vermulst: Multiple molecular mechanisms rescue mtDNA disease in C. elegans. Cell reports in press, in press 2018.

J.-F. Gout, Weiyi Li, C. Fritsch, A. Li, S. Haroon, L. Singh, K. Thomas, S. Simpson, M. Lynch, M. Vermulst.: The landscape of transcription errors in eukaryotic organisms. Science Advances 20(3), October 2017.

Shinichi Someya , Gregory C. Kujoth , Mi-Jung Kim, Timothy A. Hacker, Marc Vermulst, Richard Weindruch, Tomas A. Prolla : Effects of calorie restriction on the lifespan and healthspan of POLG mitochondrial mutator mice. PLoS Genetics. Tadafumi Kato (eds.). 12(2)(PLoS ONE 12(2): e0171159. ): N/A, February 2017 Notes: 28158260

S. Haroon, M. Vermulst: Linking Mitochodnrial Dynamics to the Mitochondrial Unfolded Protein Response. Current Opinion in Development and Genetics. J. Bielas (eds.). Elsevier, June 2016.

M. Vermulst, A. Denney, C. W. Hung, M. Lang, G. Sutphin, J. Schleit, J. Gauer, D. Summers, S. Haroon, A. Holczbauer, S. Moore, M. Mosely, W. Thompson, J. Jorgenson, D. Cyr, M. Kaberlein, J. Strathern, M. Duncan, D. Erie: Transcription errors cause proteotoxic stress and accelerate aging in yeast. Nature Communications 6(8065), Aug 2015 Notes: Nature Communications is a digital only journal; therefore, no page numbers are available.

Marc Vermulst: Ageing Answers. International Innovations 153: 46-48, Sept 2014.

M Vermulst. K. Khrapko, J. Wanagat: Mitochondrial Mutagenesis in Aging and Disease. Mutagenesis. Rajnikant Mishra (eds.). InTech, August 2012 Notes: Book chapter DOI: 10.5772/51099 ISBN: 978-953-51-0707-1.

N Ericson, M Kulawiec, M Vermulst, K Sheahan, J O'Sullivan, J J Salk, Jason H. Bielas: Decreased Mitochondrial DNA Mutagenesis in Human Colorectal Cancer. PLoS Genetics 8(6): e1002689, Jun 2012.

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Last updated: 02/15/2018
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