Studying Metabolism for Flux Sake (and to Help People)

Friday, September 30, 2016 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
FUNG Auditorium, Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall
Christian Metallo, PhD

Assistant Professor of Bioengineering

UC San Diego


Studying Metabolism for Flux Sake (and to Help People)


Metabolism is central to virtually all cellular functions and contributes to a range of diseases.  A quantitative understanding of how biochemical pathways are dysregulated in the context of diseases such as cancer and metabolic syndrome is necessary to identify new therapeutic targets.  To this end we apply stable isotope tracers, mass spectrometry, and metabolic flux analysis (MFA) to study metabolism in mammalian cells, animal models, and human patients.  Using these approaches we have characterized how proliferating and differentiated cells regulate flux of glucose and amino acids into mitochondria for lipid biosynthesis.  We are particularly interested in the role of branched chain amino acid (BCAA) catabolism in regulating adipose tissue function and lipid diversity. We have also applied MFA to cancer cells with specific oncogenic mutations to identify enzyme targets that selectively inhibit growth, developing new tools to probe compartment-specific metabolic pathways. The application of MFA to disease models greatly improves our ability to characterize intracellular metabolic processes, providing a mechanistic understanding of cellular physiology and metabolic function.


Christian Metallo joined the University of California, San Diego in 2011 and is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering. He received his bachelor’s in chemical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 2000 before joining Merck Research Laboratories to conduct bioprocess engineering research.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2008 and was an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Christian was the recipient of the Biomedical Engineering Society Rita Schaffer Young Investigator Award in 2012, a 2013 Searle Scholar Award, and a 2015 NSF CAREER Award.