Christina Pacak, PhD


Child Health Research Institute

Academic Title

Assistant Professor

Contact Information



  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
  • Ph.D., University of Florida College of Medicine
  • B.S., The Ohio State University

Research Overview

The overall theme of the Pacak research program is the study of disorders that affect mitochondrial function. While the program is focused on the investigation of specific rare diseases – Barth syndrome (BTHS), Cockayne syndrome (CS), and Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Kinase 4 deficiency (PDK4) – we apply mechanistic knowledge gained from these studies to broader concepts such as the role of mitochondria in cardiac dysfunction and neurodegeneration that are highly relevant to many common health disorders.


Dr. Pacak first became interested in research while completing her undergraduate honors research thesis project in Dr. Mark Seeger’s CNS development laboratory at Ohio State University.  After graduation, she was introduced to AAV while working as a vector laboratory technician for Dr. Reed Clark and Dr. Phillip Johnson at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.  This experience inspired her to pursue graduate studies in an AAV laboratory.  She earned her Ph.D. in 2006 from the University of Florida Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences under the mentorship of Dr. Barry J. Byrne.  Her thesis focused on the development of AAV-mediated gene delivery for heart and skeletal muscle.  She then completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School under the mentorship of Dr. Douglas B. Cowan where she worked on developing a biological replacement for pacemakers in children with atrioventricular block using muscle-derived cardiac progenitor cells and mitochondrial transplantation therapies.  In early 2014 Dr. Pacak returned to UF as an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics.

Lab Team

  • Silveli Hatano-Suzuki, M.S., Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Research Fellow
  • Mughil Sriramvenugopal – Undergraduate University Scholar
  • Shehani T. Perera – Undergraduate Emerging Scholar
  • Chelsea C. Larkin – Undergraduate Research Volunteer
  • Milan A. Lanier – Undergraduate Research Volunteer
  • Audrey L. Daugherty – Undergraduate Research Volunteer

Pacak Lab Alumni (Current Position)

  • Kathryn Taggert – D.V.M. Student (University of Florida)
  • Michael Jones – M.D. Student (University of Florida)
  • Skylar A. Rizzo – M.D./Ph.D. Student (Mayo Clinic)
  • Bennett Gosiker – M.S. Student (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)
  • Amy L. Donate, Ph.D. – Fleming Island High School Teacher/Adjunct Faculty Florida State College at Jacksonville


  1. Bashir A, Bohnert KL, Reeds DN, Peterson LR, Bittel AJ, de Las Fuentes L, Pacak CA, Byrne BJ, and  Cade WT.  2017. Impaired cardiac and skeletal muscle bioenergetics in children, adolescents, and young adults with Barth syndrome.  Physiological Reports.  Vol. 5 no. e13130 DOI: 10.14814/phy2.13130
  2. Saha M, Mitsuhashi S, Jones MD, Manko K, Reddy HM, Bruels C, Cho KA, Pacak CA, Draper I, and  Kang PB.  2017. Consequences of MEGF10 deficiency on myoblast function and Notch1 interactions.  Human Molecular Genetics.  26/15: 2984-3000.
  3. Kathryn Taggart, Amara Estrada, Patrick Thompson, Francisco Lourenco, Sara Kirmani, Silveli Suzuki-Hatano, and Christina A. Pacak.  2017. PDK4 Deficiency Induces Intrinsic Apoptosis in Response to Starvation in Fibroblasts from Doberman Pinschers with Dilated Cardiomyopathy.  Biores Open Access.  6: 182-191.
  4. Pacak CA, Preble JM, Kondo H, Seibel P, Levitsky S, Del Nido PJ, Cowan DB, and  McCully JD.  2015. Actin-dependent mitochondrial internalization in cardiomyocytes: evidence for rescue of mitochondrial function.  Biology Open.  4/5: 622-626.
  5. Bartholomä MD, Zhang S, Akurathi V, Pacak CA, Dunning P, Fahey FH, Cowan DB, Treves ST, and Packard AB.  2015. (18)F-labeled rhodamines as potential myocardial perfusion agents: comparison of pharmacokinetic properties of several rhodamines.  Nuclear Medicine and Biology.  42/10: 796-803.
  6. Hammer PE, Pacak CA, Howe RD, and del Nido PJ.  2014. Straightening of curved pattern of collagen fibers under load controls aortic valve shape.  Journal of Biomechanics. 47/2: 341-346.
  7. Pacak CA, MacKay AA, and Cowan DB.  2014. An improved method for the preparation of type I collagen from skin.  Journal of Visualized Experiments.  83:
  8. Preble JM, Pacak CA, Kondo H, MacKay AA, Cowan DB, and McCully JD.  2014. Rapid isolation and purification of mitochondria for transplantation by tissue dissociation and differential filtration.  Journal of Visualized Experiments.  91:
  9. Pacak CA, Hammer PE, MacKay AA, Dowd RP, Wang KR, Masuzawa A, Sill B, McCully JD, and  Cowan DB. 2014. Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles function as a long-term, multi-modal imaging label for non-invasive tracking of implanted progenitor cells.  PLoS One.  9/9:
  10. Masuzawa A, Black KM, Pacak CA, Ericsson M, Barnett RJ, Drumm C, Seth P, Bloch DB, Levitsky S, Cowan DB, and  McCully JD.  2013. Transplantation of autologously derived mitochondria protects the heart from ischemia-reperfusion injury.  American Journal of Physiologyl Heart and Circulation Physiology.  304/7: H966-982.