Research

Our research program is based on a combination of organic chemistry, biochemistry, and biophysics directed towards understanding the various roles gasotransmitters, nitric oxide (NO), hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and carbon monoxide (CO) and small molecules, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2 ), nitroxyl (HNO), nitrite (NO2 ) and nitrate (NO3 ) perform in biological systems. Nitric oxide, nitroxyl and hydrogen sulfide directly participate in the control of blood flow and pressure, neurotransmission, and the immune response and the regulation of their levels represents a therapeutic strategy for disease states characterized by abnormal production of these small molecules. These small molecules, especially NO also have been directly implicated in many areas of signaling with a relationship to cancer development/treatment. Our laboratory examines a number of specific areas of biological/medicinal chemistry in relation to these species:

  1. The chemistry of the reactions of these small molecules with biological targets
    including co-factors
  2. The abilitiy of nitroimidazole-based antibiotics, such as metronidazole and other neglected disease therapeutics, to release nitric oxide/nitroxyl and the role these reactive species play in the activity of these drugs
  3. The overall redox properties of sulfur-containing biomolecules.

With relation to sulfur biochemistry, our laboratory works on designing and synthesizing compounds to measure the redox status of sulfur-containg proteins, especially the formation of protein sulfenic acids and the total synthesis and biological chemistry of non-glutathione redox buffer thiols found in various micro-organisms. Many of these projects are completed in collaboration with other groups in chemistry, physics and the medical school. Students in our group are exposed to organic synthesis, biochemistry, molecular biology, biophysics (especially spectroscopy) and bio-analytical chemistry.