Research Cluster 1

DNA damage/repair associated with aging, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, discovery and development of biomarkers and biosensors for oxidative/metabolic stress

Investigation of the fundamentals of stress response and genomic stability will be a major focus of the Institute.

Reactive oxygen species play a pivotal role in oxidative stress generated by environmental factors, drug therapy and metabolic disorders, with consequences to cell viability and genomic stability. Biomarkers and biosensors for exposure and response to the stress factors are highly relevant for aging, reproductive health, cancer biology, neurodegenerative disorders and other diseases.

Faculty in Research Cluster 1:


Department of Biological Sciences

• Lou W. Kim - Multicellular development and eukaryotic chemotaxis using Dictyostelium as a model organism.
• Lidia Kos - Neural Crest Development: Genes mutated in neurocristopathies such as Hirschprung’s Disease and Waardenburg syndrome
• Jessica Liberles – Evolutionary dynamics of protein structure and function. We use computational biology to perform a combination of large scale and applied studies aimed at elucidating how conformational flexibility, post-translational regulation, protein-protein interactions, and signal transduction evolve and its implications in for e.g. virulence and neurodegenerative disease.

Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

• Watson Lees - The use of organic chemistry to study biochemical problems such the folding of disulfide containing proteins.
• Yuan Liu - Neurodegenerative diseases, DNA damage and repair, Huntington's disease • Francisco Fernandez-Lima - Development of new generation instrumentation and methodologies for biomedical and behavioral research, with emphasis in gas-phase, post-ionization separations, high resolution mass spectrometry, and new surface probes for mass spectrometry based molecular imaging. • Joong-Ho Moon - Nanoparticals: Imaging used in microscopic physiological studies in • areas of neurobiology and immunology
• Kevin O'Shea - Research projects focus on mechanistic organic chemistry particularly related to radical and oxidative stress, using product and kinetic studies to establish the reaction pathways of hydroxyl radicals.
• Raphael G. Raptis - Synthesis and evaluation of molecular, iron-based, MRI contrast agents targeted to cancer biomarkers.
• Xiaotang Wang - Structural and functional characterization of heme proteins containing thiolate axial ligand. Design and engineering of metalloproteins for asymmetric catalysis.
• Yi Xiao - Use of Biotechnologies, biomaterials and nanomaterials to develop sensitive, robust and disposable biosensors for point-of-care or on-site applications.


Department of Biomedical Engineering

• Chenzhong Li - Nanobioengineering/Bioelectronics: Interface with analytical chemistry and cellular electronics, bio-nano conjugations, functional material synthesis and characterization, and device fabrication.
• Jessica Ramella - Development of novel and non-invasive technologies for the diagnosis of disease, with particular emphasis on retinal disease and conditions that are caused by diabetes.

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

• Shekhar Bhansali - Microfluidics, biosensors, electrical evaluation of cell drug interactions


Department of Human and Molecular Genetics

• Helen Tempest - Utilizing molecular cytogenetics to study reproductive biology and chromatin organization. Our specific research endeavors to better understand the genetic basis of male infertility and to study the role of chromatin organization in DNA damage, DNA repair, gene expression and genome stability.


Department of Environmental and Occupational Health

• Marcus S. Cooke - Biomonitoring oxidative stress. Genome-wide, sequence-specific approaches to studying the formation and repair of oxidatively damaged DNA. The role of the (d)NTP pool in genome instability.
• Quentin Felty - Areas of research interest include: (i) molecular toxicological studies of the adverse effects of exposure to estrogen and estrogenic endocrine disruptors on the vascular system; (ii) the identification of novel estrogen redox signaling molecules; (iii) and the role of reactive oxygen species in angioproliferative disorders that impact pulmonary hypertension and breast cancer invasiveness.