Jerome Garcia, associate professor of biology, presented his latest findings at the faculty lecture series on Monday in the President’s Dining Room.
Garcia discussed his research in oxidative stress and how it affects the lives of cells in a lecture titled “Histone Glutathionylation: novel relationships in aging and oxidative stress.”
“The goal of my laboratory is to figure out the mechanisms to regulate genes for the greater good,” Garcia said.
Garcia’s research revolves around figuring out the mechanisms that control the life of a cell and what causes cells to die.
Oxidative stress is what him and his laboratory believes plays a large role.
Garcia gave the comparison of oxidative stress to a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. He said that oxidative stress, like hydrogen peroxide, kills.
His laboratory research shows histone glutathionylation demonstrating how oxidative stress can regulate cell aging.
“This is important because this is a mechanism that causes us to age. With deglutathionlylation we could prevent age or disease,” Garcia said.
With the understanding of oxidative stress and discovering mechanisms behind it, there stands the possibility of reducing the aging of cells.
Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, smoking and aging that leads to death are all areas of cells dying that Garcia’s laboratory has looked into.
“If you control gene regulation, you control the fate of the cell,” Garcia said.
In 2010, Garcia’s laboratory was among the first to discover histone glutathionylation and its links to cell deaths. However, a laboratory in Rome was the first to publish research on the topic and its relationship to cancer.
Garcia said he was disheartened by this, but is now back on track to be published this year for his research and how it relates not just to cancer cells, but how it can justify that oxidative stress regulates cell aging.
“Epigenetics is a hot field right now, figuring out how to regulate genes,” Garcia said.
The lecture might not have been accessible to someone without a biology or chemistry background, but Garcia made his research understandable by breaking down the science and including demonstrations like switching the lights on and off to explain cell life.
“Jerome did a great job describing complex biological processes in an understandable way with great analogies,” Alyssa Carroll, sophomore biology major, said.
Chemistry Professor Iraj Parchamazad, who made the audience chuckle with stories about Garcia when he was a student here, introduced him to the audience.
In the future, Garcia said this research could lead to fighting disease and aging through use of histone glutathionylation.
“We are getting closer and closer to mechanisms and it is exciting to see on our campus here, we may be getting close to providing answers,” Sarah Dunn, assistant professor of movement and sports science, said.
Kellie Galentine can be reached at email@example.com.