Excellent Young Author of Liver Research, March 2021

Published 21 April, 2021

Xiaowen Ma, graduate student of Dr. Wen-Xing Ding’s Lab at the University of Kansas Medical Center, USA, is the first author of a manuscript entitled “A fluorescence imaging based-assay to monitor mitophagy in cultured hepatocytes and mouse liver”. The paper was published in Liver Research’s March 2021 issue.

Autophagy is an intracellular system that degrades cytosolic proteins and organelles through a double-membrane structure known as the autophagosome. Mitophagy, the specific autophagic elimination of damaged and aged mitochondria, is a selective pathway to protect the cells against these detrimental effects. However, it is unclear how damaged mitochondria are eventually recognised by the autophagosomes in mammalian cells. Mitochondria are dynamic organelles and constantly undergo fission and fusion. Fragmented mitochondria may favour autophagic removal due to their small size. Under Dr. Ding's guidance, Xiaowen Ma is interested in investigating the mechanism of mitochondrial fission and fusion in drug-induced mitophagy and exploring its implications in liver injury.


Xiaowen Ma was born in Weihai, a beautiful seaside city located in the northeast of China. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Medicine from Shandong University. Following her graduation, she continued to study at Shandong Provincial Hospital and got her Master’s Degree in the summer of 2017. While studying for her Master’s, Xiaowen Ma joined a professional liver disease research team and focused on liver fibrosis. Intrigued by liver metabolism and pathology, in the autumn of 2017, Xiaowen Ma joined the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (IGPBS) and Dr. Ding's lab.

Awards and activities:

  • Graduate Student Research Award, The 3rd CALS Annual Symposium, 2020
  • Travel Award, EB Meeting, 2020
  • Travel Award, Gordon Research Conference, 2019
  • 1st Place in Oral Presentation, Student Research Forum at KUMC, 2019

Xiaowen Ma’s paper is available to read and download at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.livres.2020.12.002

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