Dr. Kwong received her doctoral degree in Neuroscience from Cornell University where she studied basic mitochondrial biology and primary mitochondrial disorders, and performed her postdoctoral training at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center in the Division of Molecular Cardiovascular Biology. There, her work focused on mitochondria-mediated death pathways in the heart, and regulation of mitochondrial calcium dynamics.
At Emory, the Kwong Lab investigates the molecular regulatory mechanisms by which mitochondria function as signaling organelles in the heart. Mitochondria are uniquely positioned at the tipping point between life and death as they are central to both energy and death pathways. Maintaining this balance is critical in the heart where mitochondria are the major source of energy for contraction, yet mitochondria-mediated death contributes significantly to cardiac disease. How do mitochondria differentially control these pathways? Using in vitro and in vivo genetic model systems, our laboratory will address the fundamental question of how cardiac mitochondria sense and integrate environmental information to make cellular life and death decisions. The goal of our work is to uncover new targets for therapy development that will ultimately enhance cardiac metabolism, limit cardiomyocyte death, and ameliorate cardiac disease. Beyond the heart, our genetic models can also be applied to the study of other highly energy-dependent excitable tissues such as the brain and skeletal muscle.