We study Neuroenergetics
Research Group Leader
Dr. Vidhya Rangaraju started her Research Group Leader position at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience in January 2020. The overarching goal of the Rangaraju group is to investigate the energy use and supply of biological processes in neurons.
Prior to this appointment, Rangaraju was an EMBO and Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow in the group of Dr. Erin Schuman at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Germany. During her postdoc, she uncovered the presence of local mitochondrial compartments of energy that fuel local translation during synaptic plasticity.
Rangaraju completed her Ph.D. in the lab of Dr. Timothy Ryan at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. During her graduate work, she developed a novel optical reporter of synaptic ATP to measure dynamic changes in ATP concentrations and elucidated the link between neuronal activity and ATP synthesis.
She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Vincent du Vigneaud Award of Excellence, Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting Award, the MPIBR Scientific Discovery of the Year Award, and the SfN Peter and Patricia Gruber International Research Award.
The Neuroenergetics Lab is interested in how neurons with their unsurpassed morphological complexity manage their energy landscapes. Neuronal function is tightly regulated by its metabolic state. Mitochondria, the major energy source, represent a hugely underexplored organellar system in neurons. This lack of knowledge has real consequences for human health as mitochondrial proteins are hotspots of dysregulation in neurodegenerative diseases.
Our data indicates that mitochondria may serve as organizers of local compartments of energy within dendrites. Recent technological advances give us unprecedented ways to study and manipulate mitochondria within individual cell-types and subcellular compartments.
The overarching goal of our research group is to dissect mitochondrial function and its optimization in neuronal compartments. We focus on the proteins that comprise and regulate mitochondria and the other energy supplies such as glycolysis and glial-neuronal networks in different neuronal compartments. We utilize state-of-the-art imaging, advanced proteomics and translatomics technology. We plan to apply our findings to disease model systems for Parkinson’s and ALS where the underlying causes of mitochondrial protein dysfunction are mostly unknown.