Mioara Larion, Ph.D.

Investigator

Neuro-Oncology Branch

NCI/CCR

Building 37, Roon 1136A
Bethesda, MD 20892

240-760-6825

mioara.larion@nih.gov

Research Topics

Dr. Larion’s overarching goal is to eventually observe the direct impact that cancer metabolomics can have on patient diagnosis, treatment, and survival. Since IDH mutations cause metabolic reprogramming, Dr. Larion’s research focuses on exploiting this phenomenon for therapeutic development and imaging studies that aid early diagnosis. Dr. Larion’s laboratory has shown that lipid pathways are important for IDH1-mutant glioma growth, and that targeting specific enzymes from either fatty acid synthesis or the sphingolipid pathway leads to specific cellular death in these cells (see figure).

Intracellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids can be quantified at the level of cells and individual organelles using Raman spectroscopy, which Dr. Larion has leveraged for this project. Capturing changes in these molecules has revealed a deeper understanding of the intrinsic vulnerabilities of IDH-mutant glioma cells. As a result, studying this disease from various angles may result in better diagnostic, surgical, and therapeutic benefits for patients. Dr. Larion's research could lead to the creation of a “metabolomic map," which outlines each patient's nutrient availability, mutational profile, and metabolomic dependency—possibly even segregated by organelle.

Biography

Dr. Larion trained as a biochemist and biophysicist during her Bachelor of Science degree in Romania, and continued to study these same topics during her Master of Science degree and Ph.D. from Florida State University. In graduate school, her work involved biophysics and enzymology. During this time, she developed a passion for learning about how enzymes function, and how their dysfunction can cause or exacerbate certain diseases. Shortly thereafter, she joined the NCI Center for Research’s Neuro-Oncology Branch (NOB) as an investigator, and was introduced to the field of oncology. She now leads the NOB’s Cancer Metabolism Research Program.

In addition to her research, Dr. Larion is also involved in a number of committees. She served as the co-chair of the first NCI-SNO Joint Symposium on Targeting CNS Tumor Metabolism and co-leads the NOB’s Visiting Scholars Program. She has also participated in NIH Grant Review Panels for metabolomics-related research, and organized the Metabolomics Association of North America Conference.

Honors, Awards and Leadership

  • Organizer, 1st Metabolomics Association of North America - 2019
  • 2018-2020 Performance Award
  • Member of the “Precision Medicine Task Force”, Metabolomics Society – 2018 to present
  • Member, NIH Review Panel for Metabolomics ZRG1 BST-X (50) – 2016
  • Co-Chair, Visiting Scholars Program for Neuro-Oncology Branch – 2016 to present
  • Co-Chair, 1st NCI-SNO Symposium on Targeting CNS Tumor Metabolism – 2020
  • Chair of the NIH Cancer Metabolism Interest Group – 2021 to present

Select Societies and Initiatives

  • American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
  • Society of Neuro-Oncology (SNO)
  • Biophysical Society

Selected Publications

  1. Whittington AC, Larion M, Bowler JM, Ramsey KM, Brüschweiler R, Miller BG. Dual allosteric activation mechanisms in monomeric human glucokinase. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015;112(37):11553-8.
  2. Larion M, Hansen AL, Zhang F, Bruschweiler-Li L, Tugarinov V, Miller BG, Brüschweiler R. Kinetic Cooperativity in Human Pancreatic Glucokinase Originates from Millisecond Dynamics of the Small Domain. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2015;54(28):8129-32.
  3. Larion M, Salinas RK, Bruschweiler-Li L, Miller BG, Brüschweiler R. Order-disorder transitions govern kinetic cooperativity and allostery of monomeric human glucokinase. PLoS Biol. 2012;10(12):e1001452.
  4. Larion M, Salinas RK, Bruschweiler-Li L, Brüschweiler R, Miller BG. Direct evidence of conformational heterogeneity in human pancreatic glucokinase from high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance. Biochemistry. 2010;49(37):7969-71.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Wednesday, September 14, 2022