Project Coordinator, H2020 ITN MASSTRPLAN
Molecular Biomedical Research
Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA)
My research is focused in the field of redox biology and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when the level of free radicals or oxidants in a system exceeds the capacity of antioxidants to protect against them. This can lead to oxidative damage, thus harming the cell or tissue. This often happens in inflammation, which occurs in infectious diseases as well chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases. These diseases are a major cause of ill-health and mortality in all developed countries, and increasingly in developing countries. Oxidative stress and damage is also an important factor in toxicology and adverse drug reactions, which can cause modification of proteins and Oxidants are formed in many metabolic and environmental processes. They are also be released by phagocytes during their role in early immune defence against pathogens, but in severe inflammation may result in host tissue damage and pathology. I am interested in various aspects of oxidant metabolism, from mechanisms of cell killing by oxidants and cell antioxidant defence to the role of immune cell-derived oxidants in disease and immunomodulatory effects of oxidised macromolecules. Much of the research in my group relates to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and atherosclerosis, conditions where oxidative stress is clearly implicated in the pathology of the disease, through the increased cellular uptake of oxidized low density lipoprotein (LDL). One of the major techniques used is electrospray mass spectrometry (ESMS), which can be applied to the analysis of phospholipid and protein oxidation. We are developing new mass spectrometry-based approaches to analysing and studying both lipid and protein oxidation in cells and tissues.
It is now understood that protein oxidation, especially at susceptible cysteine residues, is a mechanisms of regulation of enzyme activity and protein function. We have also been studying the effects of oxidation on protein-protein interactions, and reported for the first time how the interactome of the tumour suppressor protein PTEN changes when the PTEN is reversibly oxidized. Research is ongoing to characterize the oxidation and investigate the biological effects downstream of PTEN signaling.
Silver has been used as an antimicrobial agent for sterilizing water and topical treatment of infections for hundreds of years. The recent increase in the use of silver, especially in nanomaterials and smart materials, has enhanced the development of resistance. We are working with special chemical forms and formulations of silver to improve its antimicrobial action, and investigating the biochemical effects of silver containing complexes.
International HNE-Club - Secretary 2004-10, Committee member 2010 COST Action B35 on Lipid Peroxidation Associated Disorders - Management Committee and Workgroup Leader 2006-10 Society for Free Radical Research-Europe - Treasurer 2009-12 08-EuroMEMBRANES-FP-021: Molecular level physiology and pathology of oxidized phospholipids (2009-12). Associated Partner. COST Action CM1001 on Chemistry of non-enzymatic protein modification - modulation of protein structure and function - Management Committee and Workgroup Leader (2010-2014)
Project Coordinator - H2020 ITN-ETN MASSTRPLAN (2015-2019)
European Research Development Framework “Promoting Biomarker Development in West Midlands SME's”. (2011-2015) Joint with Prof Helen R. Griffiths, Prof Andrew R Pitt, Prof Anthony Hilton.
I have supervised 16 graduate research students and more than fifteen visiting scientists from a variety of countries. Currently I am supervising 2 PhD students and an MRes student who are still based in Glasgow.