Cell and molecular biology
University of Tampere
Howard Jacobs (b. 1955) is one of the world’s most distinguished and creative scientists in the field of mitochondria research, and one of only a handful of world-leading scientists based in Finland. The research conducted under the direction of Professor Jacobs forms a critical link between basic and applied clinical research: the results coming out of his basic research can be put to immediate use both in the treatment of patients with mitochondrial diseases and in the treatment of many ageing-related diseases.
During his extended tenure as Academy Professor, Howard Jacobs will aim to shed further light on the function of mitochondria and to explore the molecular and physiological background of defects in mitochondria function, which are implicated in many diseases. Mitochondrial dysfunctions include a number of rare mitochondrial diseases (e.g. various neurological syndromes), but they are also closely associated with ageing and many common and multifactorial diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. The results of Professor Jacobs’s research will have broad application in the treatment of all these diseases and for this reason his work is thought to have great public health significance.
Professor Jacobs will base his work on the fruit fly model and address his research questions from the perspectives of nutrition science, genetics and pharmacy. By pooling together these results, Jacobs and his team will search for new ways in which to analyse the influence of nutrients and to identify the signalling pathways needed in the mitochondrial stress response. A further aim is to identify new factors contributing to the maintenance of mitochondrial genome and to the preservation of the DNA sequence. The purpose is to identify target molecules for new medical drugs.
Professor Jacobs took his PhD at the University of Glasgow in 1981. In 1981–1983, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher in California, and then returned to Glasgow. Since 1996, he has served as Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Tampere, and since 2006 as Academy Professor. He is Director of the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Research on Mitochondrial Disease and Ageing in Tampere.