About Us

Our group was founded in December 2006, when Dr. Kirichok moved from Harvard, where he was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. David Clapham, to UCSF to establish his own lab. With the extraordinary help of the original lab members and generous support from the Department of Physiology at UCSF, the UCSF Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research, an NIH Director New Innovator Award, the Larry L. Hillblom Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, we initiated two pioneering research projects. The first project focused on understanding electrical signaling and transmembrane transport in mitochondria. It promised to significantly improve our understanding of basic mechanisms that control energy production, thermogenesis, cell aging, and cell death. The second project concentrated on electrical signaling at the sperm plasma membrane, and our aim was to understand the molecular mechanisms of male fertility and sperm-egg interaction. These two projects have resulted in important discoveries and have produced new methods that are now used by many laboratories around the world.

We believe that good science starts with a good method. We developed methods that for the first time allowed routine application of the patch-clap technique to mitochondrial membranes and the sperm plasma membrane. These methods provided the ability to directly measure electrical currents and transport events across these two very difficult-to-study cellular membranes and allowed us to penetrate into areas of cell biology that were long considered inaccessible. These methods are now successfully used to understand the molecular mechanisms that control cell metabolism, cell death, and fertilization. For us, this has being a truly exciting and eventful journey.