Metals are naturally occurring in the earth, and many are required for proper function of the human body. However, exposure to high levels of metals can be bad for human health. I am interested in how certain metals are toxic, namely arsenic and tungsten.
1) Arsenic and atherosclerosis. Arsenic is linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis, clogging of the large vessels, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Importantly, I am the first to develop a mouse model where arsenic concentrations found in our environment increase atherosclerosis. The project will determine how arsenic is increasing atherosclerosis.
2) Tungsten-induced toxicities. Tungsten, although thought to be a non-toxic metal, has recently been linked to blood cancer in kids. In addition, a group of women with breast cancer were mistakenly exposed to tungsten. This project will determine whether tungsten increases your risk of cancer of the blood or breast and how this happens. Also, we will test whether tungsten changes bone, because tungsten accumulates more in bone than any other site in the body.
3) I also work with a group of physicians trying to understand how to treat lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. Together, we are working to find new treatments for lymphoma by understanding changes in the genes of these patients who do not respond to standard treatment.