Elizabeth Ann Jonas currently holds a position as professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, in the endocrinology section, and a secondary appointment in the Department of Neuroscience at Yale University. She attended Yale University and New York University School of Medicine, where she was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha society. She maintains board certification in neurology and in internal medicine, and is active clinically as an attending physician at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Jonas is a previous recipient of a physician-scientist award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a Professional Opportunities for Women in Research and Education (POWRE) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and an American Heart Established Investigator award. Her laboratory is currently supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and she has recently been awarded a Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award.
Jonas serves as chair of the awards committee for the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and is a faculty member of the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at the MBL. Also at the MBL, she serves as an advisor to the Grass Fellowship Program. She serves as a faculty member of Yale’s Discovery to Cure and Summer to Advance Research Training (START) programs, and is currently serving as a member of the Yale Funds and Fellowship Committee. She has recently completed service as a permanent member of the NIH Study Section of Neural Oxidative Metabolism and Death, where she now serves an ad hoc role. She formerly served as the council head and meeting organizer of the New Haven unit of the William Osler Interurban Clinical Club and is currently serving as co-chair of the bioenergetics subgroup of the Biophysical Society, as co-chair of the Status of Women in Medicine at Yale (an advisory committee to the Medical School Administration on women’s issues) and as an associate editor for The FASEB Journal. In addition, she is chair of the organizing committee of the celebration of 100 years of Women in Medicine at Yale.
Jonas’s current scientific work concentrates on understanding synaptic function and neuronal cell death from the point of view of metabolic control, chiefly focusing on mechanisms of mitochondrial dysfunction in synapses within neurons undergoing developmental and neurodegenerative brain disorders. She finds that anti-cell death (anti-apoptotic) proteins not only inhibit cell death, but also counteract synaptic dysfunction and enhance the efficiency of metabolism of neurons by interacting directly with the mitochondrial ATP synthase. This function supports synaptic plasticity in models of learning and memory and neurodevelopment, and may counteract neurodegeneration. Current projects in this area include studies of the role of mitochondria in hippocampal long-term potentiation, brain ischemia, fragile X disorder and Parkinson’s disease. Recent discoveries in her laboratory place Jonas’s work at the center of a scientific controversy regarding the molecular identity and function of the long-sought-after cell-death-inducing ion channel known as the ‘mitochondrial permeability transition pore’ (mPTP) and her laboratory is actively working to further define their findings using the techniques of structural biology, mitochondrial ion channel recordings and mutagenesis.
Jonas collaborates with investigators throughout the world who study mitochondrial metabolism in degenerative and developmental diseases.