Mitochondrial Epigenetics: Surprising Roles in mtDNA Structure, Mitochondrial Function and Metastasis


Portrait of Lisa S. Shock, Ph.D.Lisa S. Shock, Ph.D.
VCU Massey Cancer Center
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
Richmond, VA

Lisa S. Shock, Ph.D., joined the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Department of Microbiology and Immunology (MICR) as an Assistant Professor in January 2017. She was recently appointed as the Graduate Program Director and serves on the Graduate Curriculum Committee for the MICR Department. She is the Course Director for two courses offered in MICR Department: MICR 607, Techniques in Molecular Biology and Genetics, and MICR 684, Molecular Biology of Cancer. She is also a member of the Cancer Molecular Genetics Program at the Massey Cancer Center.

Dr. Shock received her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the VCU School of Medicine, working under the supervision of Dr. Shirley Taylor. The findings from her graduate work were published in a seminal 2011 paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which launched an exciting new area of study: mitochondrial epigenetics. Dr. Shock did her postdoctoral training at the University of Virginia under the supervision of Drs. David R. Jones (Department of Surgery) and Marty W. Mayo (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics), where she used patient samples and in vivo mouse models to investigate mechanisms of NSCLC metastasis. She returned to VCU for a second post-doctoral training opportunity, under the supervision of Dr. John C. Hackett (Department of Physiology and Biophysics), where she studied membrane binding and enzyme catalysis of the enigmatic cytochrome P450 3A4.

Dr. Shock’s research program focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying epigenetic modification of mitochondrial DNA. Using novel cell lines and genetic models, her lab is working to understand the functional consequences of altering mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) methylation, including impacts on mtDNA structure, mitochondrial transcription, and cell metabolism. Of particular interest is how aberrant mtDNA methylation contributes to tumor progression.

During her training, Dr. Shock received a T-32 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award postdoctoral fellowship from the NIH and a NHLBI Mitochondrial Biology award. She is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Her laboratory is funded by the American Cancer Society, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU School of Medicine.

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