Research Interests

My major current research focuses on understanding how aging causes increased susceptibility to air pollution, and how oxidative stress contributes to the pathology of sickle cell disease.

Decreased capacity to adapt to oxidative stress and increased vulnerability to inflammation-associated pathologies caused by airborne particulate material is well documented in the elderly. The inflammatory response increases with aging while the opposing adaptive antioxidant defense to particles occurs only in the young. Learning how this antioxidant/inflammatory balance shift is critical to providing novel means to reduce the particle-induced oxidative injury and inflammation to which the increasingly elderly population of the US is susceptible.

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited condition due to a single amino acid alteration in one of the two adult human hemoglobin protein subunits. Due to physical changes in the affected cells during hypoxia, red cells can break releasing free hemoglobin into plasma. This and other abnormalities lead to a chronic oxidative stress in SCD. We are investigating whether differences in oxidative stress contributes to difference in numbers of crises and pain among SCD patient.