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Jose Raul Tormos Melendez, Ph.D., received his bachelor’s in Chemistry from the University of Sacred Heart in San Juan, Puerto Rico. During his years as an undergraduate he worked as a REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) student in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras isolating and analyzing soil samples that contain novel fatty acids with potential medicinal applications. After graduation he worked in the Chemical Technology Division at Argonne National Laboratories in Chicago, IL.
Dr. Tormos obtained his master’s and doctorate from research laboratory of Dr. Dan Quinn from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Iowa. His research involved using enzyme kinetics and isotope effects with UV-Vis spectrophotometry to demonstrate the accumulation of a tetrahedral intermediate in the active site of the enzymes acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme found in the neuromuscular junction; and butyrylcholinesterase, an enzyme that has been the target of several nerve agents.
As a post-doctoral research fellow, Dr. Tormos worked in the research laboratory of Dr. Paul Fitzpatrick in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. During his post-doctoral research appointment he was able to establish that an enzyme from P. anserina is a nitroalkane oxidase, upgrading the protein from its original classification as hypothetical. He has also used site-directed mutagenesis, enzyme kinetics and isotope effect to determine the role of specific residues in substrate binding and specificity for the mammalian enzyme polyamine oxidase.
Currently, Dr. Tormos is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at St. Mary's University. St. Mary's University has a total enrollment of 3,988 and an undergraduate enrollment of 2,459. 43% of undergraduates are first-generation college students, with approximately 10% coming from homes where neither parent finished high school. St. Mary's University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) with 73% of the undergraduate population identifying as Hispanic. Even though St. Mary's University is primary undergraduate institution, it is research active.
Dr. Tormos is an active member of the American Chemical Society (ACS, San Antonio section) and of the Society for the Advancement for Chicanos and Native American in Science (SCANAS). He is also a professional member so the Alpha Chi Sigma (ACE), a professional chemistry fraternity.
As a Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at St. Mary's University, Dr. Tormos has focused his research on the flavoenzyme polyamine oxidase, a member of the monoamine oxidase family of flavoproteins. He uses mechanistic approaches including rapid-reaction kinetics, synthesis of deuterated compounds as well as potential inhibitors of polyamine oxidase, site directed mutagenesis and characterization of mutant enzymes, and enzyme crystallography. He collaborates with Dr. Paul Ftizpatrick at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio and is currently working with undergraduate students and in collaboration with Dr. Ahmad Galaleldeen of the StMU Department of Biology in obtaining the first crystal structure of the mammalian polyamine oxidase. He recently received, as co-PI, funding through an NSF MRI grant for a fluorometer capable of fluorescence lifetime measurements useful in the mechanistic studies of polyamine oxidases.
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