Research in the laboratory of Clifford D. Folmes, Ph.D., focuses on how mitochondria and energy metabolism regulate cell fate decisions, and the molecular mechanisms by which individual metabolic pathways support stage-specific stem cell function. The lab employs a wide variety of investigative techniques, such as metabolic flux analysis and metabolomics in disease models and human cell cultures.
The long-term goal of Dr. Folmes' research is to develop a comprehensive blueprint of how energy metabolism directs stem cell fate and function and how these pathways are modified by aging and disease. These fundamental insights will provide the foundation to develop novel metabolism-based strategies to augment current cell-based therapies and improve innate tissue regeneration.
- Stem cell metabolism. Using nuclear reprogramming and stem cell cardiac lineage specification as model systems, Dr. Folmes' laboratory is defining how plasticity in energy metabolism regulates cell fate decisions and how individual metabolic pathways support stage-specific stem cell function.
- Aging and disease. Dr. Folmes' research team is interested in how aging and disease-associated changes in mitochondrial function and metabolism impact the stem cell niche and tissue regenerative capacity.
- Metabolism-based regenerative strategies. The laboratory endeavors to identify novel metabolic targets that can be utilized to enhance stem cell-based repair, improve innate tissue regenerative capacity and delay aging-associated degeneration.
Significance to patient care
Defining the mechanisms by which stem cells decide when to differentiate and what to differentiate into is critical to develop novel regenerative therapies to treat a growing pandemic of chronic diseases associated with aging of the population. Application of this knowledge will enable targeted metabolic strategies to facilitate production and selection of defined progenitor populations for regenerative treatment of disease.
Impaired cellular metabolism may also represent a mechanism whereby tissue-specific stem cell function is compromised in aging and disease, offering modulation of energy metabolism as an alternative strategy for restoration of stem cell function, tissue rejuvenation and treatment of disease.
- Recipient, Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00), National Institutes of Health, 2014-2016
- Recipient, Edward C. Kendall Award for Meritorious Research, Mayo Clinic Alumni Association, 2013
- Subject Matter Expert, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), 2013
- Recipient, Marriott Career Development Award, 2011-2013
- Recipient, Canadian Institutes for Health Research Fellowship, 2009-2012