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Fellows Directory

David Nicholls

David Nicholls

Professor David Nicholls FRS


Elected: 2019


David Nicholls is a biochemist whose research has focused on the mitochondrion, the ’powerhouse of the cell’, with an emphasis on the proton circuit, proposed by Peter Mitchell (Nobel Laureate 1978) to couple the energetically downhill electron transport chain to the energy-requiring ATP synthase. Key findings include the identification of the ’uncoupling protein’ in brown adipose tissue, responsible for the heat-generating capacity of the tissue, and the elucidation of mechanisms responsible for regulating calcium transport between the mitochondrion and the cell.

He has applied these techniques to the study of neurotransmitter release from the nerve terminal, the energetics of neurons and their failure in models of stroke, and the energetic control of insulin secretion.

He joined the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Novato, California in 2000 and is currently emeritus. His explanation of Mitchell’s chemiosmotic theory in the textbook ’Bioenergetics’ has become the standard text in the field. In 2008 he was awarded the Mitchell Medal by the European Bioenergetics Congress.

Professional positions

Professor Emeritus of Mitochondrial Physiology, Buck Institute for Research on Aging

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Cell biology (incl molecular cell biology)
  • Anatomy, physiology and neurosciences
    • Cellular neuroscience, Physiology incl biophysics of cells (non-clinical)
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