Our Research Faculty at the UPMC Aging Institute

Toren Finkel, MD, PhD
Director, Aging Institute of UPMC Senior Services and the University of Pittsburgh
Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Division of Cardiology
G. Nicholas Beckwith III and Dorothy B. Beckwith Chair in Translational Medicine

Phone: 412-383-4409
Fax: 412-648-9279

Administrative Assistant: Joy Hart
Phone: 412-383-4416

Research Interest

The Finkel lab is interested in how mitochondrial function, metabolism and autophagy regulate mammalian aging. They also have a strong interest in developing novel small molecules that may slow or even reverse aspects of aging and which may therefore be of benefit for treating a wide array of age-related diseases. The lab focuses on creating novel mouse models, employing a wide range of cellular and molecular techniques, as well as developing novel CRISPR-based approaches to unravel why and how we age. Current projects involve understanding the role of in vivo mitophagy (see Sun et al., Mol Cell, 2015; Sun et al., Nat. Prot., 2017), how vascular autophagy might regulate aspects of vascular aging (see Torisu et al., Nat. Med., 2013), mechanism by which calcium enters the mitochondria (see Pan et al, Nat. Cell Biol, 2013; Liu et al., Cell Reports, 2016) and how substrate utilization regulates cell fate (see Xiong et al., Mol Cell, 2018).


Sundaresan M, Yu ZX, Ferrans VJ, Irani K, & Finkel T (1995) Requirement for generation of H2O2 for platelet-derived growth factor signal transduction. Science 270:296-299.

Hill JM, Zalos G, Halcox JP, Schenke WH, Waclawiw MA, Quyyumi AA, and Finkel T (2003). Circulating endothelial progenitor cells, vascular function, and cardiovascular risk. N Engl J Med 348: 593-600.

Liu J, Cao L, Chen J, Song S, Lee IH, Quijano C, Liu H, Keyvanfar K, Chen H, Cao LY, Ahn BH, Kumar NG, Rovira II, Xu XL, van Lohuizen M, Motoyama N, Deng CX, and Finkel T. (2009). Bmi1 regulates mitochondrial function and the DNA damage response pathway. Nature 459:387-392.

Torisu, T., Torisu, K., lee, I.H., Liu, J., Malide, D., Combs, C.A., Komatsu, M., Cao, L., and Finkel, T (2013). Autophagy regulates endothelial cell processing, maturation and secretion of von Willebrand factor. Nature Medicine, 19:1281-1287.

Pan X, Liu J, Nguyen T, Liu C, Sun J, Teng Y, Fergusson MM, Rovira II, Allen M, Springer DA, Aponte AM, Gucek M,Balaban RS, Murphy E, and Finkel T (2013) The physiological role of mitochondrial calcium revealed by mice lacking the mitochondrial calcium uniporter. Nat Cell Biol. 15:1464-72.

Sun N, Yun J, Liu J, Malide D, Liu C., Rovira II, Holmstrom KM, Fergusson MM, Yoo YH, Combs CA and Finkel T (2015) Measuring in vivo mitophagy. Mol. Cell, 60: 685-696.

Notable Achievements

Established Investigator Progeria Society 2017-present
NHLBI Orloff Innovation Award, 2016
NHLBI Director's Award-Outstanding Translational Science, 2015
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2013
Association of American Physicians, 2009
Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar in Aging Award, 2006-2010
American Society for Clinical Research, 2002

Beibei Bill Chen, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine
Director, Small Molecule Therapeutic Center
Co-Director, Acute Lung Injury Center of Excellence

Aditi Gurkar, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Division of Geriatric Medicine

Gang Li, PhD
Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh, Division of Cardiology

Jie Liu, PhD
Visiting Research Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh, Division of Cardiology

Ana Mora, MD
Visiting Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine


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