Welcome to CienciaPR, an expert and resource network for all who are interested in science and Puerto Rico.
I graduated in 1994 from the Ana Roque High School at Humacao, PR. While in high school I participated actively in the JSHS and the scientific fairs. I worked with Dr. Jeannette Gavillan-Suarez, which is now a professor of chemistry at the UPR-Cayey and a CienciaPR member, a project involving the biotransformation of pineapple wastes sterols. After that I did a BS in Chemistry at the UPR-Humacao in where I worked as a MBRS student with Dr. Antonio E Alegria doing EPR of antitumor semiquinones in biological models.
In 2000, pursuing other areas of study, I started a PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Akron. I finished my PhD in 2005 under the guidance of Dr. Daniel J Smith in where I developed a whole bunch of polyamine based lipophilic nitric oxide donors and also help in the development of a nanobandage that releases nitric oxide using the electrospinning technique. I also encapsulated other biomaterials like proteins and enzymes in polymer electrospun nanofibers.
Before graduating, I decided to go back to the free radical area and I completed a NCI post doctoral research fellowship appointment at the Medical College of Wisconsin in the department of biophysics with Balaraman Kalyanaraman. My research is very interdisciplinary because I'm developing a whole array of mitochondrial targeted prodrugs for different applications. We are testing all this compounds in cells and tissue. To assess the effects of this new prodrugs we are using HPLC and MS techniques as well as EPR.
After almost five years of post doctoral work, I accepted a research position at the Cardiovascular Foundation of Colombia (FCV) in Colombia, South America. The FCV is a JCI accredited medical-research institution. I am the Director of Biotechnology, Innovation and Technology Development. I have a research laboratory equipped for molecular biology, biochemistry, flow cytometry and genetical work. Also, I am the Director of the Advanced Clinical Laboratory in where we have a histocompatibility and immunogenetics lab, a molecular biology lab and a flow cytometry core lab. I am still working assesing the role of free radicals in biology and medicine in preeclampsia, rare diseases (metachromatic leukodystrophy), Chagas´disease and cancer. I am also an ad honorem Professor at Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia. Currently my group is composed of 11 people; Olga Romero (Clinical Lab Manager), Paola Gómez García (Administrative Assistant), Wendy Nieto Pérez, PhD, Researcher and Head of the Flow Cytometry Core, Osmany Blanco Muñoz, PhD, Researcher, Olga Lucía Sopo, MSc, Head of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics, Karina Aguilar Vila, Head of Specialized Testing, Lissette Sánchez, PhD Student, Mariana Vega, PhD Student, Sandra Sanabria Barrera, PhD Student, Karol Yepes, Research Assistant and Carolina Perdomo, MSc Student.
In terms of my project I am particularly interested in studying the role of reactive oxygen species and lipid peroxidation products in cardiovascular related pathologies. Although, during my years as a graduate student I ended up doing more biomaterials, I also got trained in bioorganic chemistry producing polymers and prodrug based nitric oxide donors.
Currently in the Medical College of Wisconsin, we are working in developing novel mitochondria targeted compounds to detect superoxide in intracellulary and in intact mitochondria, to help overcoming the damage by lipid peroxidation derived polyunsaturated fatty acids products and to deliver nitric oxide.
Also, in the area of cancer we are targeting compounds to the mitochondria that will trigger the production of ROS and will accumulate predominantly in tumors in mitochondria.
Besides all the bioorganic chemistry, I'm also very interested in unveiling the role of ROS or RNS in pathologies like preeclampsia. It has been found that the xanthine oxidase activity is dramatically increased in placental cytotrophoblasts from preeclamptic nullipara women. This condition is responsible for about the 5-8% of the newborn deaths in the US. Characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine, preeclampsia, which occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period, affects both the mother and the unborn baby in many ways. I working in developing studies to assess the role of ROS and RNS in this condition and verify other sources of oxidative stress in women suffering from this condition.
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