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Dr. Mary Ellen Harper

University of Ottawa

Mary-Ellen Harper received an undergraduate degree in Nutrition from the University of Guelph prior to completing her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Ottawa.  Her Doctoral supervisors were Dr. Jean Himms-Hagen and John Patrick.  Dr. Harper then trained as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Martin Brand in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge (UK).  In 1995 Dr. Harper established her Mitochondrial Bioenergetics research laboratory at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Harper’s research focuses on mechanisms that impact the efficiency of energy conversion pathways in mitochondria, which are commonly known as the ‘power-houses’ of cells.  Changes in the efficiency of energy conversion can affect the development of diseases and metabolic dysfunction, and her research probes mechanisms in the context of obesity, diabetes, aging and cancer. Experimental approaches span from molecular in vitro studies, to mouse models, and to integrative studies in patient populations.  Her current laboratory team includes two postdoctoral fellows, two PhD students, two MSc students, three undergraduate thesis students, two undergraduate research opportunity program students, and a technician.  Research has been funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Heart and Stroke Foundation, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI).  In 2015, she was the recipient of a CIHR Foundations Award to support research on ‘Mitochondrial Bioenergetics and Redox Biology in Obesity and Related Disease’. Dr. Harper is invited internationally to speak on her research, and has published 135 peer-reviewed papers to-date.  She has trained many graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, who now have successful careers, for example, in research and medicine.