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NCIRE-The Veterans Health Research Institute is the leading private nonprofit institute devoted to Veterans health research in the United States. Our mission is to advance Veterans health through research.

We support the work of some of the nation's foremost physicians and scientists at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the premier biomedical research facility in the VA system. All have faculty appointments at the University of California, San Francisco, which has its own proud traditions of research and patient care. We also partner with the U.S. Department of Defense to support health research on behalf of our men and women in the Armed Forces.

Those who have served in uniform have given their best for their country. In return, we believe that they deserve nothing less than the best health care research we can provide.

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Gary Cecchini, PhD

Senior Research Career Scientist, Medical Research Service, and Chief of Molecular Biology, SFVAHCS
Research Biochemist, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, UCSF

Mitochondrial Biochemistry and Physiology

Dr. Gary Cecchini and colleagues were the first laboratory to describe the three dimensional structure of Complex II (succinate dehydrogenase), a key member of the energy generating component of the mitochondrion, the "power plant" of the cell. Their findings show how the architecture of this family of enzymes is arranged to lessen the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are thought to be important for diseases such as aging, cancer, neurodegeneration, and heart disease. In humans mutations of the genes encoding Complex II are associated with tumor formation.  Studies in the laboratory are focused on how Complex I (NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase) and Complex II are assembled into functional enzyme complexes within the mitochondrion.  Our laboratory has also shown how conformational changes in Complex I and II I contribute to their normal function and how this effects interaction with other proteins of the cell; including other mitochondrial membrane proteins. Information derived from these studies has been the subject of numerous research articles, which show how mutations of Complex II can contribute to tumor formation, neurodegeneration, and altered cellular function. As signaling and energy generating organelles, mitochondria are important for survival of cells with high-energy demands such as the heart, kidney, brain, and muscle. Alteration of normal mitochondrial physiology is increasingly recognized as an important contributor to a number of different disease including diabetes and other metabolic diseases.  Complexes I & II are essential for normal energy generation and our laboratory is studying how genetic and pharmacological manipulation of these complexes can be utilized to aid in treatment and prevention of disease in our veterans and general population.


To see Dr. Cecchini on Pub Med, click here.