Investigate the molecular mechanisms of oxidative stress in health and disease.
Oxidative stress is caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS, toxic oxygen molecules that damage tissue), also known as free radicals, and is usually considered to be harmful to human health. There is widespread interest in oxidative stress because of its involvement in many chronic diseases and physiological processes. Examples include Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, heart attack, HIV/AIDS, kidney disease, liver disease, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson's disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, stroke and aging. Our research is focused on oxidative modification of protein function, a key mechanism by which ROS affect cellular functions.
Honours projects involve examining the effect of oxidative stress on different aspects of muscle physiology and pathology. Muscle is of interest for several reasons. Muscle wasting is a leading cause of frailty as people age and muscle wasting diseases, such as the dystrophies, have a devastating impact on the quality of life and can be fatal. ROS also appear to play an important role in normal muscle physiology. In this context, we are currently focused examining whether the health benefits of exercise (eg prevention of diabetes) are linked to ROS.
Projects are multi-disciplinary which expands the types of experimental models you can work on. You will be able to learn new techniques which can be applied in projects involving cell biology, animal models of disease or working directly on humans. Please contact me for information on current research projects.
PGA is an active multidisciplinary researcher with expertise in oxidative stress, a process when reactive oxygen species (ROS), also known as free radicals, overwhelm the body’s antioxidant defences. ROS are thought to contribute to the complications of many chronic and lifestyle diseases such as muscle wasting, blindness, Alzheimer’s, emphysema, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, renal failure and aging. To progress research on ROS, PGA is involved in collaborative research with others involved in a range of disciplines including neurotrauma, exercise science, physiology, anatomy, zoologists, and agriculture. As a consequence of multidisciplinary research, PGA has been involved in projects utilising cell culture, animal models and human subjects.
To support this research, PGA has led the development of novel techniques sensitive enough to identify proteins undergoing reversible thiol oxidation (see patents). This work led to the discovery that protein thiol oxidation was elevated in dystrophic muscle tissue and we have linked prevention of protein thiol oxidation to decreased muscle damage.