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FACULTY PROFILE STYLESHEET: do not remove this block

Åsa Gustafsson, Ph.D.
Professor of Pharmacology, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Research Interests

Dr. Gustafsson’s research is focused on understanding the molecular pathways that regulate the life and death of cardiac myocytes. Mitochondrial dysfunction and activation of cell death pathways are common occurrences in cardiovascular disease and contributes to the development of heart failure. Using genetic, cell and molecular biology approaches, Dr. Gustafsson is investigating how the BCL-2 proteins and PINK1/Parkin pathway recognize and mark dysfunctional mitochondria for degradation via the autophagy-lysosome and endosomal pathways. Failure to remove dysfunctional mitochondria is detrimental to myocytes and leads to cardiac dysfunction. Dr. Gustafsson research is focused on how these pathways are affected during heart failure and aging.


Selected Publications

Hammerling, B.C., Najor, R.H., Cortez, M.Q., Shires, S.E., Leon, L.J., Gonzalez, E.R., Boassa, D., Phan, S., Thor, A., Jimenez, R.E., Li,. H., Kitsis, R.N., Dorn G.W. 2nd., Sadoshima, J., Ellisman, M.H., Gustafsson, Å.B., A Rab5 Endosomal Pathway Mediates Parkin-Dependent Mitochondrial Clearance. Nat. Comm. 8:14050, 2017.

Woodall, B.P., Orogo, A.M., Najor, R.H., Cortez, M.Q., Moreno, E.R., Wang, H., Divakaruni, A.S., Murphy, A.N., Gustafsson, Å.B., Parkin Does Not Prevent Accelerated Cardiac Aging in Mitochondrial DNA Mutator Mice. JCI Insight. 4(10):e127713, 2019. PMCID:PMC6542612

Lampert, M.A., Orogo, A.M., Najor, R.H., Hammerling, B.C., Leon, L.J., Wang, B.J., Kim, T., Sussman, M.A., Gustafsson, Å.B. Nix and Fundc1-Mediated Programmed Mitophagy is Required for Mitochondrial Network Remodeling during Cardiac Progenitor Cell Differentiation. Autophagy, 15(7):1182-1198, 2019. PMCID:PMC6613840

Shires, S.E., Quiles, J.M., Najor, R.H, Leon, L.J., Cortez, M.Q., Lampert, M.A., Mark, A., and Gustafsson, Å.B., Nuclear Parkin Activates the ERRα Transcriptional Program and Drives Widespread Changes in Gene Expression Following Hypoxia. Scientific Reports 10:8499. 2020.

Liang, W., Moyzis, A.G., Lampert, M.A., Najor, R.H., Diao, R.Y., and Gustafsson, Å.B. Aging is associated with a decline in Atg9b-mediated autophagosome formation and appearance of enlarged mitochondria in the heart. Aging Cell 19(8):e13187, 2020.

Liang, W., Sagar, S, Ravindran, R., Najor, R.H., Quiles, J.M., Chi, L., Diao, R.Y., Woodall, B.P., Leon, L.J., Duran, J., Cauvi, DM, De Maio, A., Adler, E.D., and Gustafsson Å.B., Mitochondria are Secreted in Extracellular Vesicles When Lysosomal Function is Impaired. Nature Communications – in press

Quiles, J.M., Najor, R.H., Gonzalez, E. Jeung, M. Liang, W. Burbach, S.M., Zumaya, E.A., Diao, R.Y., Lampert, M.A., and Gustafsson Å.B., Deciphering Functional Roles and Interplay Between Beclin 1 and Beclin 2 in Autophagosome Formation and Mitophagy. Science Signaling, Jan 31, 16 (770):eabo4457, 2023.



Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases


Signaling & Molecular Pharmacology