Picard Lab

Location and Contact Information 

​Picard Lab
1051 Riverside Drive
Kolb 4
New York, NY 10032
United States
(646) 774-5026

The Picard research group studies mechanisms of mitochondrial signal transduction to understand how stress and positive psychological experiences are biologically embedded. We also study how mitochondria contribute to cellular aging, to normal brain function, and to clinical mitochondrial disorders.

Our lab’s goal is to conduct research that enhances our understanding of brain-body interactions. Our research program is highly translational and combines two main approaches:

1) Through in vitro and pre-clinical studies, we genetically and pharmacologically modulate mitochondrial function to examine the molecular, epigenetic, cellular, and physiological effects of (abnormal) mitochondrial behavior.

2) In clinical studies of individuals with different types of mitochondrial (dys)function, we develop mitochondrial profiling methods, use machine learning to capture individualized mitochondrial signatures, and combine these approaches with neuroimaging and psychophysiology to explore mechanisms of mitochondrial psychobiology.

Methods

Molecular biology, mitochondrial genetics, mitochondrial biochemistry, live cell microscopy, 3D quantitative electron microscopy, functional neuroimaging, DNA methylation, transcriptomics, and bioinformatics.

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Lab Members

  • Martin Picard

    Principal Investigator

    Martin is the Herbert Irving Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology at Columbia University, and a Research Fellow of the Columbia Aging Center. He trained as a physiologist in neuroimmunology, then in aging mitochondrial biology, psychosocial oncology, and systems biology at McGill University in Canada. As a postdoc fellow he worked with cellular and animal models of mitochondrial disease with Doug Wallace at the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenetic Medicine (CMEM), and on stress physiology with Bruce McEwen. Beyond his passion for mitochondria and transdisciplinary research, Martin enjoys cycling, photography, and traveling.

  • Kalpita Karan, PhD

    Postdoctoral Researcher

    Kalpita received her PhD in human molecular genetics from Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore, India. Her doctoral work involved understanding the molecular and genetic basis of a rare for of epilepsy known as hot water epilepsy, where she used whole-exome sequencing to identify a rare variant in the glutamate transporter SLC1A1 gene. Currently, Kalpita combines pharmacological and genetic approaches to understand the role of mitochondrial function and signaling in cellualr stress responses, particularly pro-inflammatory activation. Her translational work in the MiSVIE study includes assessment of mitochondrial functions and of cellular stress responses in leukocytes of patients with inherited mtDNA disorders. Apart from research, Kalpita enjoys cooking, blogging and painting.

  • Marlon A. McGill, BSc

    Lab Manager

    Marlon is a research scientist with extensive background utilizing molecular biology techniques in clinical and bench research. He was the recipient of a competitive NRSA grant from the NIMH studying brain development as an undergraduate, and subsequently worked at Cornell where he investigated serotonin and dopamine signaling related to depression and Parkinson's disease, and then work with the post-traumatic stress team at the Bronx V.A.where he implemented various molecular assays in human samples. His current project deals with developing methods to manipulate mitochondrial functions in live cells, and measuring the mitochondrial health index. Outside the lab, Marlon is a sport performance coach who is also passionate about art and enjoys bird watching.

  • Gabriel Sturm

    Research Assistant

    Gabriel is an alumni of the AMGEN Scholars Program and graduate from Yeshiva University’s Honor’s program in Biology and Computer Science. Gabriel is currently leading the ‘Cellular Lifespan Study’ which focuses on the how the mitochondrion may be the timekeeper of biological age. The project addresses questions of how the mitochondrion allow cells to perceive time, coordinate responses to neuroendocrine stressors, and signal cellular senescence. Gabriel also leads the leukocyte bioenergetic assessments of the MiSBIE Study. Gabriel’s main scientific pursuit in biogerontology research aims to use multi-omic InSilico models of cell systems to advance our understanding of human aging. Outside the lab, he enjoys reading existential philosophy, virtual art, and wandering in nature.

  • Caroline Trumpff, PhD

    Postdoctoral Researcher

    Caroline received her PhD in Psychological Sciences from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. She completed her doctoral research at the Belgian Scientific Institute of Public Health (WIV-ISP) in the Department of Epidemiology in the "Surveys, Lifestyle and Chronic Illnesses" team. Caroline currently coordinates the psychosocial assessments in the MiSBIE Study and applies statistical models to understand the interpay od psychological stress exposure and mitochondrial biology. In collaboration with the Monk Lab, she also investigates the effect of diet during pregnancy on placenta DNA methylation and mitochondrial function. Beside her passion for science, Caroline is an avid reader of literature and psychanalysis, has a passion for the arts, and enjoys traveling and cooking.

  • Marissa Cross, BA

    Study Coordinator

    Marissa completed her BA in Psychology at Oberlin College, where she studied neuropsychiatry and the social development of children and teens. After college, Marissa studied anhedonia and reward pathways in adolescents at risk for depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Marissa is currently the MiSBIE study coordinator and uses MRI to collect data on brain structure and function. She has a passion for studying the neural processes at play in life-altering disorders and hopes to one day utilize this knowledge in treatment. Outside of the lab, she enjoys singing, playing guitar, and baking

  • Grace Liu, MA

    Data Manager

    Grace is the data manager in the Division of Behavioral Medicine. Grace provides comprehensive data services for our lab and the Division including data collection design, data quality checking, data reporting and data customization utilizing SAS, Excel/VBA, and other analytical packages. She maintains and updates the REDCap software/database for the MiSBIE study. Grace Liu holds a M.A. in Geographical Informational Systems and previous worked as analyst in nonprofit sector.

  • Shannon Rausser

    Research Volunteer

    Shannon's background is in Neuroscience and Art. She received her BSc in Neuroscience from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her main interests include the creative mind, neural networks, and mental health. Her long-term goal is to complete a PhD in Neuroscience to continue research on stress and mental health disorders. Shannon’s current work in the lab focuses on longitudinal psychobiological assessments to evaluate the effects of stress and aging on mitochondria. Outside of the lab, Shannon enjoys biking, creating art, and traveling.​

  • Johanne Fortune, RN

    Research Nurse

    Johanne is a registered nurse working in cardiology. As part of the MiSBIE study, she works with the team and uses her IV skills and warm personality to collect serial blood draws at different points of the study protocol. She also processes self-reported psychosocial and well-being data

  • Amy Vincent, MSc

    Affiliated Member

    Amy is a postdoctoral fellow at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Disease at Newcastle University, UK. She completed her PhD in Newcastle University and was a visiting fellow in the Picard Lab. Her graduate work investigated mitochondrial dysfunction in both mitochondrial myopathy and other neuromuscular diseases. Her current projects focus on: i) understanding the mechanism by which mitochondrail DNA mutations accumulate in age and disease, and ii) three-dimensional quantification of the morphology of mitochondrail in human skeletal muscule. Outside the lab, Amy enjoys playing hockey and reading crime fiction.

  • Ayelet Rosenberg

    Undergraduate Student

  • Veronica Taleon

    Undergraduate Student

  • Jennifer Wang

    Undergraduate Student

  • Snehal Bindra

    Undergraduate Student

Select Publications

  • Trumpff C, Marsland AL, Basualto C, Martin JL, Carroll JE, Sturm G, Gu Z, Vincent A, Kaufman BA, Picard M. Acute psychological stress increases serum circulating cell-free mitochondrial DNA. BioRxiv doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/405886

  • Vincent AE, Rosa HS, Pabis K, Lawless C, Grünewald A, Chen C, Rygiel KA, Rocha MC, Falkous G, Perissi V, White K, Davey T, Grady JP, Petrof B, Sayer AA, Cooper C, Taylor RW, Turnbull DM, Picard M. Sub-cellular origin of mtDNA deletions in human skeletal muscle. Ann Neurol 2018 (in press)

  • Picard M, Prather AA, Puterman E, Cuillerier A, Coccia M, Aschbacher K, Burelle Y, Epel ES. A mitochondrial health index sensitive to mood and caregiver stress. Biol Psychiatr 2018; 84(1):9-17

  • Vincent AE, Ng YS, White K, Davey T, Mannella C, Falkous G, Feeney C, Schaefer AM, McFarland R, Gorman GS, Taylor RW, Turnbull DM, Picard M. The spectrum of mitochondrial ultrastructural defects in mitochondrial myopathy. Sci Rep 2016; 6:30610 

  • Picard M, McManus MJ, Gray J, Nasca C, Moffat C, Kopinsky P, Seifert E, McEwen BS, Wallace DC. Mitochondrial functions modulate neuroendocrine, metabolic, inflammatory and transcriptional responses to psychological stress. PNAS 2015; 112(48):E6614-23