Marc Vermulst, PhD

Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Contact InformationThe Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
The Colket Translational Building
6th Floor - Room 6014 CTRB
Philadelphia, PA, 19104
Office: 267-425-2117


Research Expertise

The primary goal of my lab is to understand the mechanistic basis of the aging process. Understanding human aging is perhaps the most important goal of modern medicine today, since most diseases that are currently endemic in Western society are age related diseases. Thus, if we had a deeper appreciation for the aging process itself, we would be in a better position to treat, or prevent various diseases, such as cancer, heart failure and neuronal degeneration.

This rationale shapes the research we do in our lab and ensures that our experiments are always at the crossroads of basic biology and medical urgency.

Proteotoxic stress: Many age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, are caused by proteotoxic stress. When examined, the neuronal networks of these patients are crowded with protein aggregations that impair cognitive function. To delay the progression of these diseases, and ultimately to prevent them, it will be important to understand how protein aggregation is initiated. We have found a link between DNA transcription and proteotoxic stress that helps explain the etiology of these diseases.

Stem cell biology: Stem cells are the most important residents of our tissues. They replenish cells that are lost over time, and give rise to specialized groups of cells that are required for tissue homeostasis. Accordingly, age-related changes in stem cell behavior may contribute to the decline in tissue function seen with old age. To investigate this possibility, we are studying stem cell dynamics as a function of age.

Mitochondrial DNA dynamics: Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. They supply our cells with energy and mediate numerous processes that are essential to human health. As we grow older, mitochondria decline in function, and this can have a negative effect on cells with a high metabolic load, especially muscle fibers and neurons. Although the mechanisms behind this age-related decline are unclear, it is thought that mitochondrial DNA is a central component of this problem. Our goal is to unravel mtDNA genetics at a subcellular level to understand why mitochondrial function declines in aging muscle cells and neurons.

Carcinogenesis: Cancer is one of the most common age-related diseases in humans. To successfully treat cancer, it will be important to identify the Achilles’ heel of tumor progression. A deeper understanding of the cellular dynamics that drive tumor growth could contribute to this effort. Our goal is to unravel the complex cellular dynamics inside a growing tumor mass to expose new targets for treatment.

Graduate Groups

Cell and Molecular Biology


M. Sc. (Biology), University of Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands (Molecular Biology), 2002
Ph.D. University of Washington, Seattle, WA (Pathology), 2008

Specialty Certification

Postgraduate Training

Post-doctoral Research Scholar, Department of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA, 2008-2009
Post-doctoral Research Scholar , Department of Chemistry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA, 2009-2013

Awards and Honors

Memberships and Professional Organizations

Selected Publications

Transcription errors: A new horizon for mutation research

C. Fritsch, M. Vermulst, Journal of Visualized Experiments, 2018

Mitochondrial DNA Variation Dictates Expressivity and Progression of Nuclear DNA Mutations Causing Cardiomyopathy

Meagan J McManus, Hsiao-Wen Chen, Martin Picard, Hans J. De Haas, Prasanth Potluri, Jeremy Leipzig, Atif Towheed, Alessia Angelin, Partho Sengupta, Ryan M. Morrow, Brett A. Kauffman, Marc Vermulst, Jagat Narula Douglas C. Wallace, Cell Metabolism, Cell Metabolism, 2018

Multiple molecular mechanisms rescue mtDNA disease in C. elegans

S. Haroon, A. Li, C. Fritsch, N. Ericson, J. Alexander-Floyd, B.P. Braeckman, C. Haynes, J. Bielas, T. Gidalevitz, M. Vermulst, Cell reports in press(): , 2018

The landscape of transcription errors in eukaryotic organisms

J.-F. Gout, Weiyi Li, C. Fritsch, A. Li, S. Haroon, L. Singh, K. Thomas, S. Simpson, M. Lynch, M. Vermulst., Science Advances 20(3): , 2017

Effects of calorie restriction on the lifespan and healthspan of POLG mitochondrial mutator mice

Shinichi Someya , Gregory C. Kujoth , Mi-Jung Kim, Timothy A. Hacker, Marc Vermulst, Richard Weindruch, Tomas A. Prolla, PLoS Genetics 12(2)(PLoS ONE 12(2): e0171159. ): N/A, 2017, PMID:28158260

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Linking Mitochodnrial Dynamics to the Mitochondrial Unfolded Protein Response

S. Haroon, M. Vermulst, Current Opinion in Development and Genetics, 2016

Transcription errors cause proteotoxic stress and accelerate aging in yeast

M. Vermulst, A. Denney, C. W. Hung, M. Lang, G. Sutphin, J. Schleit, J. Gauer, D. Summers, S. Haroon, A. Holczbauer, S. Moore, M. Mosely, W. Thompson, J. Jorgenson, D. Cyr, M. Kaberlein, J. Strathern, M. Duncan, D. Erie, Nature Communications 6(8065): , 2015, PMID:26304740

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Ageing Answers

Marc Vermulst, International Innovations 153(): 46-48, 2014

Mitochondrial Mutagenesis in Aging and Disease

M Vermulst. K. Khrapko, J. Wanagat, Mutagenesis, 2012

Decreased Mitochondrial DNA Mutagenesis in Human Colorectal Cancer

N Ericson, M Kulawiec, M Vermulst, K Sheahan, J O'Sullivan, J J Salk, Jason H. Bielas, PLoS Genetics 8(6): e1002689, 2012, PMID:22685414

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