About the Author
Liza A. Pon, PhD, is a Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology and the Institute of Human Nutrition, and Director of the Confocal and Specialized Microscopy Shared Resource at Columbia University. As a PhD student at Tufts University, she carried out the first characterization of a protein now known as StaR, steroidogenic acute regulatory protein, which mediates transfer of cholesterol within mitochondria during steroid hormone biosynthesis. As a post-doctoral scientist with Gottfried (Jeff) Schatz at the University of Basel, she studied the mechanism of import of proteins into mitochondria. Dr. Pon joined Columbia University in 1990 and has been there ever since. Her research focuses on mitochondrial motility, dynamics, quality control and interactions with other organelles, and how these processes affect cell cycle progression, cellular fitness and lifespan. Recent studies in the laboratory focus on mechanisms for detection and removal of unfolded and damaged proteins not just in mitochondria but also in the ER in models of aging and disease. Eric A. Schon, PhD, is the Lewis P. Rowland Professor of Neurology (in Genetics and Development) at Columbia University. After graduating Columbia University with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, he spent 10 years as a Technical Brand Manager for the Procter & Gamble Company in Cincinnati, OH. After leaving P&G, he received a PhD in Biological Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard Medical School. He moved to Columbia as an Associate Research Scientist in 1984, and has been there ever since. Dr. Schon's laboratory studies the molecular genetics of neurological and neuromuscular diseases, with particular focus on mitochondrial disorders. The research has two principal goals: (1) to use the tools of molecular and cell biology in order to gain insight into the etiology, pathogenesis, and treatment of these devastating diseases, and (2) to build on this knowledge in order to ask more fundamental biological questions relating to nuclear-mitochondrial communication, mitochondrial biogenesis, and mtDNA plasticity. Most recently, the laboratory has become interested in understanding the structural and functional relationships between mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease.