Nora Kory

Nora Kory

Assistant Professor of Molecular Metabolism
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Nora Kory headshot

My longstanding goal is to understand how metabolic processes are organized spatially in the cell and what role organelles such as mitochondria play in compartmentalizing metabolism. I am particularly interested in understanding how compartmentalization supports cell proliferation in normal physiology and how this is altered in cancer, a disease characterized by increased proliferation and altered metabolic demands, as well as in aging and other age-associated diseases.

My interest in understanding the roles of organelles in metabolism in health and disease began in my PhD with Dr. Tobias Walther at Yale University, where I studied how fat storage is organized in lipid droplets (LDs), cytosolic organelles fundamental to cellular lipid metabolism. During this time, I developed expertise in cell biological tools, in particular microscopy, and systems analyses of organelles. I contributed to defining the LD proteome of several model organisms, and became familiar with unanswered questions linking molecular cell biology to human disease.

In my postdoctoral research as a Damon-Runyon Cancer Research Foundation fellow and NCI K99/R00 recipient in Dr. David Sabatini’s laboratory at Whitehead Institute/MIT, I have focused my efforts on the role of mitochondria in cellular metabolism. Combining CRISPR screens with compartment-specific metabolite profiling I have identified key factors in mitochondrial metabolism and transport pathways central to cancer metabolism and proliferation. My findings in the areas of one-carbon metabolism and NAD transport open up exciting new research directions and present candidates for novel chemotherapeutic targets, research which I will pursue in the Department of Molecular Metabolism at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

My laboratory focuses on how, at a molecular and at a physiological level, cells and organisms maintain efficient metabolite exchange between the metabolically connected but chemically diverse compartments of the cytosol and mitochondria, and how such metabolite exchange is adjusted to metabolic demand and cell state. A particular focus lies on elucidating functions and regulation of poorly understood mitochondrial metabolite transporters, gatekeepers and key components of cellular metabolism. With expertise in state-of-the-art microscopy, functional genomics, metabolomics, mitochondrial metabolite profiling, cell biology and biochemistry I am uniquely set up to address these poorly understood fundamental questions, which hold great potential for developing ways to target cancers by restricting their metabolic flexibility. I am committed to promoting diversity in science and will continue to devote efforts towards this goal, for example as a member of the departmental Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which I joined when starting my independent position.