If there is such a thing as a science gene, then certainly Vamsi Mootha has it. His father and siblings (he is the youngest of four) are all physicians. Although Mootha received his MD from Harvard Medical School, for a time he was drawn powerfully by math and computer science, having earned his BS from Stanford University in mathematical and computational science.
It was a biology course in his junior year that awakened Dr. Mootha’s love of genetics and biochemistry, and led to his enrollment in the MD program at Harvard/MIT. And it was seeing images of a patient with a rare mitochondrial disorder, in pathology class, that, as he puts it, got him “hooked on mitochondria,” organelles that have been proven to play a clear role in inborn errors of metabolism and, more recently, to be implicated in a variety of common human diseases.
Today, as the primary investigator of the Mootha Lab — dually located at the Center for Human Genetic Research at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard — Dr. Mootha focuses his research on mitochondria, the energy producers for cells. His long-term goal is to develop predictive models of mitochondrial physiology, to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of a broad range of human diseases, from rare monogenic syndromes to more common types, in particular type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Vamsi Mootha was born in India and raised in Beaumont, Texas. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with highest honors from Stanford, received his MD in 1998, and completed his training in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His postdoctoral fellowship training was conducted at the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research.
He is an associate professor of systems biology and medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as a senior associate member of the Broad Institute. The Mootha Lab is currently supported by grants from the American Diabetes Association, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and the Smith Family Foundation.