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Evolution of CMM and MAMMAG

The critical need to apply this “Two Organism Paradigm of Man” to medicine and its striking success at addressing the apparent complexity of the age-related diseases led Dr. Douglas C. Wallace to develop a new center at Emory, the Center for Molecular Medicine (CMM). In 1990, in response to a strong bid from Harvard Medical School to recruit Dr. Wallace away from Emory, Emory University appointed Dr. Wallace the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Molecular Medicine and empowered him to develop and direct a new center, CMM. The CMM combined a strong basic research program in mitochondrial and germ cell biology with a clinical program to assist patients with complex disease. The clinical program included a clinic and molecular and biochemical diagnostic laboratories. Within a short period, CMM came to be recognized as the premier world center in the emerging discipline of Mitochondrial Medicine.

In 2002, Dr. Wallace and the CMM were recruited to the University of California, Irvine (UCI) to bring its Mitochondrial Medicine and Germ Cell Biology programs to Southern California. Dr. Wallace was appointed the Donald Bren Professor of Molecular Medicine, and he reconstituted the CMM as the Center for Molecular and Mitochondrial Medicine and Genetics (MAMMAG). MAMMAG was envisioned to encompass four interrelated units: a research and educational unit called the Mitochondrial/Molecular and Germ/Stem Cell Biology Unit (MAGSCEB), a Mitochondrial and Molecular Medicine Clinical Unit (MITOMED), a Mitochondrial Medicine Information Unit (MITOMAP), and a private sector and Corporate Interface Unit (MITOCORP) (Figure1).

Over the past four years, MAMMAG has made substantial progress in developing a local and national presence in both of its MAGSCEB research and educational programs: Mitochondrial and Molecular Medicine, and Germ and Stem Cell Biology. MAMMAG has successfully recruited the requisite faculty and staff and initiated vigorous research programs in both areas of specialization. The Center has also made excellent progress in developing the diagnostic and clinical service components required to establish a leading program in Mitochondrial Medicine (MITOMED). MITOMED has established clinical interactions with the Miller Children's Hospital of Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), University of California, San Diego (UCSD), University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Southern California (USC), and Kaiser Permanente, and has established collaborations around the world.

MAMMAG is also expanding its mtDNA information service, MITOMAP. The Center will soon launch an intelligent mitochondrial information processing system, MITOMASTER. MITOMASTER will be able to draw on the Center’s extensive information and expertise in mitochondrial medicine and genetics to provide direct factual answers to inquiries by physicians, scientists and patients.

Finally, for the Center to apply its expertise to the development of reliable patient therapeutics, it will need to enlist non-federal support for research and development. This will require establishing an interface with the private sector, which we hope to catalyze by developing a Mitochondrial Medicine Corporation (MITOCORP).