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Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center


L. Jackson Roberts, M.D.

William Stokes Professor of Experimental Therapeutics
Professor of Medicine
Professor of Pharmacology (Clinical Pharmacology)

Contact Information:

Vanderbilt University Medical Center
522 Robinson Research Building
Nashville, TN 37232-6602

  • M.D. - University of Wisconsin
  • Fellowship - Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Internship - Denver General Hospital
  • Post Graduate Training - Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Washington University Medical Center
  • Post Graduate Training - Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Residency - Washington University Medical Center
  • Internship - Aurora Saint Luke's Medical Center
  • Residency - Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Research Specialty

Role of Free Radicals and Oxidative Injury in Human Disease

Research Description

Free radicals primarily derived from oxygen have been implicated in a wide variety of diseases ranging from atherosclerosis, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and even the normal aging process. Free radicals readily attack lipids, proteins, and DNA resulting in mutations and deleterious effects on membrane and protein structure and function.

We discovered a series of novel products of free radical attack on lipids termed isoprostanes. Measurement of isoprostanes has emerged as the most reliable approach to assess free radical reactions in vivo. They also exert potent biological activities, which are currently being characterized. We have also discovered a series of similar compounds (neuroprostanes) formed by free radical attack on a unique lipid in the brain. Their role in neurodegenerative diseases is currently under investigation. Recently, we discovered novel highly reactive molecules that are produced by these pathways. These molecules rapidly adduct to proteins and we are currently exploring the pathobiological consequences of their formation in neurodegenerative and other diseases. More recently, we discovered new products of lipid peroxidation called isofurans whose formation is uniquely regulated by oxygen tension. Measurement of isofurans provides a unique tool to assess the role of oxidative injury in the setting of hyperoxia and in disorders of mitochondrial dysfunction. This provides ample opportunities for scientific investigation in a multidisciplinary area of research that is highly relevant to human disease. .