Dagda Lab

Department of Pharmacology

The Dagda Lab is a mitochondrial biology-oriented research group located at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine that currently spearheads three projects supported by a Phase I COBRE grant (GM103554, "Cell Biology of Signaling Across Membranes") and several internal grants. These projects include:

  • Investigate how kinases at the mitochondrion regulate neuronal development, mitochondrial function and mitochondrial movement in neurites under physiological conditions and during oxidative stress.
  • Investigate the molecular mechanisms by which specific brain-enriched phosphatases regulate mitochondrial morphology, survival and turnover in neurons.
  • Generate new mitochondrial targeted nanodrugs that can promote neuronal survival in models of Parkinson's disease and other brain degenerative disorders.
Immunofluorescence image of dopamine neuron

Immunofluorescence image shows a representative microscopic field of a dopamine neuron (stained with a tyrosine hydroxylase specific antibody, green) embedded with non-dopamine neurons (stained for the dendrite marker MAP2B).

Immunofluorescence image showing how neurons are connected to glia

Immunofluorescence image showing how neurons (identified by MAP2B specific antibodies, red) are interconnected with glia (green).

The Dagda Lab consists of 900 square feet of wet lab space that spans two lab rooms. It is equipped with high speed temperature controlled centrifuges, an EVOS-FL microscope, an EVOS-CORE microscope, a tissue culture facility, a Seahorse Biosciences XFe24 Extracellular Flux Analyzer for measuring metabolic activities of live cells, touch-screen PCR machines, a SpectraMax M4 Multimode 96 well plate reader, Western blot equipment, immunohistochemistry equipment and is located next to the Nevada Proteomics Center, the Electron Microscopy Center and the COBRE-supported confocal microscopy suite in Howard Building. The Dagda Lab supports the research projects of three undergraduate students, two doctoral students, a postdoctoral scholar and a research associate.

Recent Publications (2018)


1R01NS105783-01 Regulation of dendrite homeostasis by PINK1 and PKA in models of Parkinson's disease, PI: Ruben K. Dagda, $1,570,000, 04/01/2018-03/31/2023.

R25OD023795, Community of Bilingual English-Spanish Speakers Exploring Issues in Science and Health (CBESS), $1,291,865.00 , 09/01/2017-07/31/2022.

Dr. Ruben Dagda (Pharmacology), and Isabel Silvestre (Department of Microbiology and Immunology) received funds from the Solve ME/CFS Initiative (SMCI), a leading organization focused on myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. The 2016 Ramsay Award Program recipients, selected by a rigorous peer-review process, have now been announced. Ruben is part of "Team 3", one of five teams worldwide that have been selected for seed funding. The title of his and his collaborator's proposal is "The Bioenergetic Health Index of NK Cells as a Diagnostic Tool for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome."


Ruben Dagda, Ph.D. was invited to present his aging-related research at the Tenth Annual Division of Aging Biology New Investigators Forum (DAB NIF) at the National Aging at the NIH on June 29-30, 2016. The purpose of the forum is to bring together new NIH NIA grant awardees in the year following their award, to allow NIH program staff to get acquainted with researchers and to allow networking among researchers.

Ruben Dagda, Ph.D. was awarded a 1-year AVPR Research Enhancement grant for $21,173 to support his research titled "Regulation of Dendrite Homeostasis by PINK1 and PKA in Models of Parkinson's Disease

Ruben Dagda, Ph.D. has been awarded the International Society for Neurochemistry Young Investigator Award to present his research at the 2015 Biennial Internation Society for Neurochemistry in Cairns, Australia in August.

Dr. Dagda has also had the following paper nominated to receive the 2013-14 Mark A. Smith Award by the Journal of Neurochemistry to be presented at the conference above:

  • Dagda RK, Pien I, Wang R, Zhu J, Wang KZ, Callio J, Banerjee TD, Dagda RY, Chu CT. Beyond the mitochondrion: cytosolic PINK1 remodels dendrites through protein kinase A.
    Journal of Neurochemistry. 2014 Mar;128(6):864-77. doi: 10.1111/jnc.12494. ePub 2013 Nov 13.

Current Collaborators at UNR/UNR Med:

  1. Dr. Jeffrey Angermann, School of Community Health Sciences
    • Project: Toxic mechanisms mitochondrial dysfunction by arsenic in smooth muscle cells
  2. Dr. Isabel Silvestre, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
    • Project: Mitochondrial dysfunction in chronic fatigue syndrome patients
  3. Dr. Robert Renden, Department of Physiology and Cell Biology
    • Project: Role of glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation in modulating synaptic transmission
  4. Dr. Patricia Berninsone, Department of Biology
    • Project: Role of glycosylation on mitochondrial function
  5. Dr. Thomas Kidd, Department of Biology
    • Project: Mechanisms of degeneration of stomatogastric system neurons in PINK1-deficient flies