Taosheng Huang, MD, PhD, a geneticist from the University of California Irvine, will direct the new Mitochondrial Disease Program at Cincinnati Children’s. The program, based in the Division of Human Genetics, will integrate basic and translational research, clinical care and genetic testing to improve care for children with mitochondrial diseases.

 Mitochondria play a critical role in many fundamental cellular functions and are the “powerhouses” of cells, which produce over 90 percent of the energy required by a cell. Dysfunction of mitochondria can affect almost every cell and organ system and has been implicated in a wide range of diseases, such as Kearns-Sayre syndrome, Leigh syndrome, hearing loss and vision impairment, cancer and diabetes.  Clinically this group of diseases can present with poor growth, loss of coordination, muscle weakness, developmental delay, and other neurological problems.

Huang earned his medical degree and a master’s degree in biochemistry in China, and went on to receive a PhD in Biomedical Science from the Mount Sinai Medical School in New York. He completed his pediatric residency at Georgetown University Medical Center and his fellowship in clinical genetics and clinical molecular genetics at Harvard Medical School.  Before coming to Cincinnati Children’s Huang served as the lab director of the MitoMed diagnostic laboratory and in several clinical and research roles at the University of California Irvine since 1991.

Huang will continue his research using “next-gen” sequencing to identify disease-causing genes. He also will continue work to develop an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) therapy to treat optic atrophy and other mitochondrial diseases. He will also work with specialists to help diagnose and treat children with these diseases.