Tanja Taivassalo

Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE)

University Clinic - Royal Victoria Hospital


Photo of Tanja Taivassalo


BSc McGill University
PhD McGill University
Postdoctoral Fellowship University of Texas at Dallas


Areas of expertise

Neuromuscular Disease, Exercise Physiology

Current research

Mitochondrial disorders, Skeletal muscle metabolism, Adaptation to exercise

Educational background

Postdoctoral Fellow at Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Dallas, Texas; PhD, McGill University

Personal statement

Dr Taivassalo’s research has focused on the pathophysiology of skeletal muscle mitochondrial disorders and the safety and efficacy of exercise training in their treatment. Deleterious effects of physical inactivity superimposed upon impaired mitochondrial function contribute to varying degrees of exercise intolerance in these patients. Endurance exercise has potential to induce normal adaptive mitochondrial biogenesis thereby increasing levels of functional mitochondria, exercise tolerance and quality of life. The therapeutic potential of resistance training is based on a concept of gene shifting and relies on activation of muscle satellite cells to increase levels of functional muscle mitochondria.

Integrative methodologies in the laboratory including clinical exercise testing and gas exchange, MRI and spectropscopy, ultrasound and NIR, biochemical and molecular analyses are used to measure cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic and muscle responses to exercise and training. The idea that mitochondrial dysfunction may be central to aging and other chronic conditions make these ‘cellular powerhouses’ an energizing field of study!