My research focuses on enzymes that orchestrate the response to oxidative stress – an imbalance between cellular oxidants and antioxidants. Oxidative stress leads to impaired signaling as well as damage to cellular components. In fact, oxidative stress is linked to the majority of human diseases and very closely to aging. Thus, a considerable amount of research focuses on the intervention, augmentation and management of the intrinsic cellular response systems against oxidative stress to extend the duration and quality of human life.
One central research focus is the biological role of selenium in proteins that utilize the rare amino acid selenocysteine. Selenoproteins signal the level of cellular oxidative stress and play a central role in regulating redox pathways. We seek to understand the key differences that set selenoproteins apart from their cysteine-containing homologues. A second theme is the contribution of the membrane properties to the high specificity and rate enhancement of membrane enzymes. Specifically, membrane enzymes that are involved in detoxification pathways and contributes to the health of cellular membranes.