Gavin P. McStay, Ph.D.
Gavin McStay

Assistant Professor

Old Westbury Campus
Theobold Science Center, Room 423

Phone: 516.686.1202


  • B.Sc. – Biochemistry, University of Leeds, United Kingdom, 1999
  • Ph.D. – Biochemistry, University of Bristol, United Kingdom, 2003

Research and Professional Experience

  • 2003-05 Post-doctoral scientist, Department of Cellular Immunology, La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology, San Diego, CA
  • 2005-10 Post-doctoral scientist, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Department of Immunology, Memphis, TN
  • 2010-13 Post-doctoral scientist/Associate Research Scientist, Columbia University, Department of Biological Sciences, New York, NY

Research Focus

Cellular energy production, in the form of ATP, is essential for all life. In eukaryotes, the vast majority of ATP is produced by the mitochondria, an organelle found in virtually every eukaryotic cell. Mitochondria also take part in many other vital biosynthetic pathways, such as cholesterol biosynthesis and amino acid metabolism. Seemingly contradictory to the role in energy production and metabolism, mitochondria are also central to eukaryotic cell death pathways. Therefore, it can be appreciated that mitochondria must be under very strict quality control mechanisms to ensure that metabolic functions are efficient and cell death is only engaged appropriately. These quality control mechanisms would be especially important in cellular differentiation and growth otherwise diseases associated with dysfunctional mitochondria may develop, such as neurodegeneration, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Our research will attempt to characterize the mechanisms by which mitochondrial quality is assessed, maintained or corrected. Due to the “life cycle” of mitochondria there are many points where quality control must be assessed, ranging from energy production, protein folding, biogenesis, division, movement, inheritance and degradation. We will determine and characterize the signal transduction pathways that are engaged when these vital mitochondrial functions are altered or impaired. We will use the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as our primary experimental model to identify and characterize signal transduction pathways. Our findings in yeast will be translated into more complex eukaryotic systems to assess affects on development and disease progression.


  • McStay GP, Green DR. Caspase Inhibitor and Activity Assays In Vitro. Cold Spring Harbor Protocols (in press).
  • McStay GP, Su C-H, Thomas SM, Xu JT, Tzagoloff A. Characterization of Coxp1 Assembly Intermediates in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Journal of Biological Chemistry (in press).
  • McStay GP, Su C-H, Tzagoloff A. Stabilization of Cox1p Intermediates by the Cox14p-Coa3p Complex. FEBS Letters 587 (7): 943-949, 2013.
  • McStay GP, Su C-H, Tzagoloff A. Modular Assembly of Yeast Cytochrome Oxidase. Molecular Biology of the Cell 24 (4): 440-452, 2013.
  • Bender CE, Fitzgerald P, Tait SWG, Llambi F, McStay GP, Tupper DO, Pellettieri J, Sánchez Alvarado A, Salvesen GS, Green DR. Mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis is ancestral in metazoans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109 (13): 4904-4909, 2012.
  • Chipuk JE, McStay GP, Bharti A, Kuwana T, Clarke CJ, Siskind LJ, Obeid LM, Green DR. Sphingolipid Metabolism Cooperates with BAK and BAX to Promote the Mitochondrial Pathway of Apoptosis. Cell 148 (5): 988-1000, 2012.
  • Rak M, McStay GP, Fujikawa M, Yoshida M, Manfredi G, Tzagoloff A. Turnover of ATP synthase subunits in F1-depleted HeLa and yeast cells. FEBS Letters 505: 2582-2586, 2011.
  • Bouchier-Hayes L, Oberst A, McStay GP, Connell S, Tait SW, Dillon CP, Flanagan JM, Beere HM, Green DR. Real-time regulation of caspase-2 dimerization during apoptosis. Molecular Cell 35 (6):830-840, 2009.
  • McStay GP, Salvesen GS, Green DR. Overlapping cleavage motif selectivity of caspases: implications for analysis of apoptotic pathways. Cell Death and Differentiation 15 (2): 322-331, 2008.
  • Tu S, McStay GP, Boucher LM, Mak TW, Beere HM, Green DR. In situ “trapping” of activated initiator caspases reveals a role for caspase-2 in heat shock-induced apoptosis. Nature Cell Biology 8:72-77, 2006.
  • Spierings DCJ, McStay GP, Saleh M, Bender CE, Chipuk JE, Maurer U, Green DR. Connected to death: the (unexpurgated) mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis. (Review Article) Science 310:66-67, 2005.
    • Bender CE, Spierings DCJ, McStay GP, Chipuk JE, Saleh M, Maurer U, Green DR. Mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis: anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family. Science STKE (Connections Map).;CMP_17525.
    • Bender CE, Spierings DCJ, McStay GP, Chipuk JE, Saleh M, Maurer U, Green DR. Mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis: multidomain Bcl-2 family. Science STKE (Connections Map).;CMP_18015.
    • Bender CE, Spierings DCJ, McStay GP, Chipuk JE, Saleh M, Maurer U, Green DR. Mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis: BH3 only Bcl-2 Family. Science STKE (Connections Map).;CMP_18017.
    • Bender CE, Spierings DCJ, McStay, GP, Chipuk JE, Saleh M, Maurer U and Green DR. Mitochondrial Pathway of Apoptosis: Caspases. Science STKE (Connections Map).;CMP_18019.
  • Halestrap AP, McStay GP, Clarke SJ. The permeability transition pore complex: another view. (Review Article) Biochimie 84:153-166, 2002.
  • McStay GP, Clarke SJ, Halestrap AP. Role of critical thiol groups on the matrix surface of the adenine nucleotide translocase in the mechanism of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore. Biochemical Journal 367:541-548, 2002.
  • Clarke SJ, McStay GP, Halestrap AP. Sanglifehrin A acts as a potent inhibitor of the mitochondrial permeability transition and reperfusion injury of the heart by binding to cyclophilin-D at a different site from cyclosporin A. Journal of Biological Chemistry 277:34793-34799, 2002.
  • Molecular characterisation of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore. April 2003. (Doctoral Thesis)

Book Chapters

  • McStay GP & Green DR. Mitochondria and Cell Death. Apoptosis: Physiology & Pathology. Cambridge University Press.

Memberships in Professional Societies

  • 2011-present New York Academy of Sciences
  • 2007-present American Society of Cell Biology
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Department of Life Sciences
Theobald Science Center

Old Westbury
Theobald Hall, Room 421
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The Life Sciences Department offers degrees at our campuses in New York City and Long Island, NY.