Professor and Smithgall Institute Professor of Molecular Cell Biology
B.S., Biochemistry and Nutrition, Virginia Tech, 1974; Ph.D., Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology, Cornell University (Ithaca), 1979
Cells rely on lipids for energy, membrane structure and transport, and signaling. My laboratory studies a category of lipids (termed sphingolipids and glycosphingolipids) that are among the most structurally complex and diverse compounds produced by eukaryotes. A major focus of his research is the lipid backbones of sphingolipids (ceramide, sphingosine, sphigosine 1-phosphate and others), but recent developments in lipidomic mass spectrometry are enabling us to explore much more complex and intriguing compounds. In addition to characterizing the ways that sphingolipids are made, act, and are turned over, our laboratory explores how disease results from disruption of these pathways by (for examples) food borne mycotoxins, environmental contaminants, venoms, and other agents. Studies of naturally occurring and synthetic analogs of these compounds are leading to new strategies for disease prevention and treatment, particularly for certain forms of cancer.