Faculty Spotlight: Oleh Khalimonchuk

Meet Oleh Khalimonchuk, Susan J. Rosowski Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and interim director of the Nebraska Redox Biology Center.
Thursday, December 2, 2021

Faculty Spotlight: Oleh Khalimonchuk

About Oleh

I am a native of Lviv, Ukraine. I received a diploma specialist, an equivalent of a combined bachelor and master’s degree, in microbiology from Lviv National University before completing my graduate studies in genetics at Dresden University of Technology and Max Planck Institute for Cell Biology & Genetics in Germany. I then undertook postdoctoral training in mitochondrial biochemistry with Dennis Winge at the University of Utah School of Medicine. I joined UNL as an assistant professor of biochemistry in 2011, was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2017, and to full professor in 2020. My research is focused on fundamental biological processes that involve mitochondria. To gain insights into vital aspects of mitochondrial functions in human disease and aging, we utilize several model systems and state-of-the-art genetics and biochemical approaches. Our long-term goal is to understand the molecular bases of mitochondrial function/dysfunction in normal and prevalent aging-associated disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Additionally, we aim to delineate compensatory homeostatic mechanisms that exist in said conditions, and design therapeutic modalities targeting these pathways to achieve clinical benefits.

What is your position at the University of Nebraska?

I am Susan J. Rosowski Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at UNL. I am also an affiliate member of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at UNMC. I concurrently serve as the Interim Director of the Nebraska Redox Biology Center, a multi-institutional research organization of faculty within the NU system.

What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

The good life. Frankly, my family and I didn’t know much about UNL or Nebraska before moving here, but this seemed like a great career opportunity and I have absolutely no regrets about this transition.

I’ve got to interact and work with some very fine, talented and supportive people from diverse backgrounds here at UNL. The vibrant research environment and available resources and infrastructure to support my research program are also impressive. Finally, my family and I quickly fell in love with Lincoln and its welcoming atmosphere. We are happy to call Nebraska a home. 

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy teaching and interacting with talented, goal-oriented students and am committed to training the next generation of independent, critically thinking scientists capable of conducting impactful research in the future. It’s always extremely gratifying to see their professional growth and celebrate their successes. I view these interactions as a two-way street and always am eager to learn something new from these talented individuals.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My greatest professional achievement is being able to provide some seminal contributions to the field of mitochondrial biology and deepening our understanding of several mitochondria-associated disorders. Those discoveries were quite impactful and contributed to the revival of general interest in understanding fundamentals of mitochondrial function and promoted recent spike in mitochondria-oriented research worldwide.

My greatest personal achievement is my family, of course. I’ve been blessed with two wonderful kids who are an endless source of joy and sheer fun.

What is something that most people don't know about you?

Before becoming a scientist, I have seriously considered a career in music and performed as a guitarist with several rock and blues bands. Though I’m no longer as good as I used to be, I have a sizeable collection of guitars, and enjoy playing the instrument whenever I have a moment.

What is your life like outside of work?

I enjoy spending time with my wife and kids. I also spend quite a bit of time reading books, doing long-distance bike rides and jamming out on my guitars.