Emma Rybalka

Emma Rybalka

Dr Rybalka is a skeletal muscle biologist specialising in disorders of muscle wasting involving dysregulated mitochondria, including inherited Duchenne muscular dystrophy, acquired chemotherapy cachexia and age-related sarcopenia. Her team investigates the mechanisms of muscle wasting to identify suitable drug targets and new treatment approaches.

Dr Rybalka is the Program Director of our Inherited and Acquired Myopathies research project.

Research Focus

Dr Rybalka’s research is focused on targeting mitochondrial and metabolic systems to treat skeletal muscle wasting, particularly in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and cachexia caused by anti-cancer chemotherapy. 

Her research program has shifted paradigm in scientific understanding of the factors that potentiate DMD, leading to an alternative clinical development strategy of new therapeutics for patients focused on the mitochondria and metabolic systems. 

The international pharmaceutical industry has leveraged her team’s discoveries and ideas to develop and credential mitochondrial drugs for DMD and clinical trials have been initiated. Her team has also made important discoveries regarding the impact of anti-cancer chemotherapy on the skeletal muscular system including impaired mitochondrial function that results in disruption of normal protein synthesis and downregulation of dystrophin, the protein that is missing in DMD. 

Her research suggests that mitochondria, dystrophin and muscle wasting are inextricably linked and has identified mitochondria as strategic targets against both DMD and cancer chemotherapy cachexia.

She consults for several international pharmaceutical companies regarding their clinical development programs and is a member of the global TREAT-NMD network.

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