Welcome to the lab of Dr. Victor Darley-Usmar


To promote human health through mitochondrial research


Human health is intricately associated with cellular mitochondria, also termed as powerhouse of the cell due to their critical role in energy production. Advances in the last few decades have identified several additional functions of mitochondria such as calcium regulation, redox signaling, cellular metabolism and cell death to name a few.  A better understanding of the mitochondrial biology and assessment of mitochondrial function is essential uncovering the mechanisms of diseases and designing therapeutic strategies.  

Our team is actively involved in basic, translational and clinical studies that are aimed to understand the processes that impact bioenergetic health of individuals. Specifically, we use biochemical, bioenergetic and metabolic approaches to discover pathophysiological mechanisms involving mitochondria in age related pathologies such as cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, and metabolic diseases.  Using the extracellular flux analyzer technology, we have developed assays to determine various aspects of mitochondrial function and the Bioenergetic health Index to assess the bioenergetic status of cells. We have also combined bioenergetic information with the platelet metabolome using bioinformatics tools to map the pathways that regulate mitochondrial function. We are interested in applying this information to develop mitochondrial therapeutics, clinical tests and designing strategies to maintain health.

We actively engage in training the next generation of scientists at the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral level. We strive to promote a diverse and inclusive environment in our lab and throughout the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Research Goals

  1. Determine the metabolic determinants that control mitochondrial function of cells impacting a broad range of human pathologies including cancer, neurodegeneration and cardiovascular disease.
  2. Development and application of mitochondrial assays to determine mitochondrial defects in patients.
  3. Metabolic and bioenergetic alterations associated with ageing.

Major research capabilities

Determination mitochondrial function in cells and tissues. Development of mitochondrial biomarkers. Correlation of cellular bioenergetics with metabolomics using statistical and bioinformatics tools. Metabolic studies of cancer. Pre-clinical testing and evaluation of anticancer agents using metabolic and bioenergetic approaches. Determination of bioenergetic alterations in leukocytes and platelets obtained from patient samples (Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotropic lateral Sclerosis, Trauma, Diabetic nephropathy, Alcoholic Liver Disease, Prostate Cancer etc). Development of mitochondrial therapeutics.