Dr. Ambre Marguerite Solange Bertholet selected as a 2023 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

A mitochondrion attached to a glass pipette to measure the flow of ions and metabolites.
A mitochondrion attached to a glass pipette to measure the flow of ions and metabolites. Photo: Bertholet Lab

Dr. Ambre Marguerite Solange Bertholet, assistant professor of physiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine has been selected by the Pew Charitable Trusts as one of 22 early-career researchers to become a 2023 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Bertholet will receive four years of funding to pursue innovative studies exploring human health and medicine. She is the 12th UCLA scientist to receive the award. Her work will study how mitochondria, which produce cellular energy in the form of ATP, can instead be steered toward generating heat.

Dr. Bertholet was trained in Toulouse, France at the Université Paul Sabatier. She earned her B.S. in Cell Biology and Physiology, M.S. in Gene Cells and Development, and her Ph.D. in Biology, Health and Biotechnologies. Subsequently, she did her postdoctoral training with Dr. Yuriy Kirichok at UC San Francisco.

Ambre M. Bertholet
Ambre M. Bertholet

Her interest in mitochondria was sparked as a graduate student in the laboratory of Pr. Pascale Belenguer. During her Ph.D. research, she analyzed the influence of mitochondrial dynamics on neuronal maturation and functioning.

As a postdoctoral trainee, she focused on another important aspect of mitochondrial physiology – the transport of ions and metabolites across the mitochondrial membranes. In the Kirichok lab, she developed a patch-clamp method for directly measuring proton movement across the inner mitochondrial membrane. This innovation enabled Dr. Bertholet to identify novel transport mechanisms for the mitochondrial H+ leak responsible for mitochondrial heat production and metabolic regulation of energy expenditure.

“It's a great honor to be part of the Pew family,” said Dr. Bertholet. “This award will provide vital support for our lab in hopes of producing novel therapies for combatting conditions associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, including obesity, diabetes, and disorders associated with aging.”

James Gardner, M.D., Ph.D. of UC San Francisco and Quinton Smith, Ph.D. of UC Irvine were also named scholars in the current cycle.

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