Building on his earlier research, which was supported by a MSFHR Trainee Award, Damon Poburko is now investigating the mechanisms involved in mitochondrial regulation of calcium. An average cell has several hundred mitochondria, which provide the energy for cells to function properly. Research has shown mitochondria are involved in programmed cell death, or apoptosis, when they take up large, toxic loads of calcium. In addition, mitochondria sense calcium changes, allowing them to tailor energy production to cell needs. Mitochondria also help regulate intracellular calcium levels, which determine blood vessel constriction in vascular muscle. The findings should help explain how vascular tone is regulated, and how blood is shunted to different parts of the body as needed. Ultimately, this research may lead to the development of new therapies to treat vascular diseases.