EVANSTON, Ill. --- Thomas V. O'Halloran has been reappointed the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor in Chemistry in the Northwestern University College of Arts and Sciences.
O'Halloran's research interests center on the regulatory biology and chemistry of transition metal receptors involved in signaling and trafficking pathways. His work reveals how cells use essential metal nutrients such as copper, zinc and iron at the molecular level and also provides insights into what happens when these same metals are mismanaged, as is the case in some cancers, in Malaria, in Menkes' and Wilson Disease and neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS.
His research group has identified several novel metal receptors and focuses on characterization of their function, structure and mechanism. Two new classes of proteins emerge from these studies: the metalloregulatory proteins, which are metal responsive genetic switches, and the metallochaperone proteins, which act to protect and guide metals to the right place in the cell. In other projects his group interrogates the intracellular trafficking of these elements using imaging methods and fluorescent probes that are specific for metal ions such as Zn(II). Together these types of experiments delineate elemental signatures that are common to microbial and mammalian organisms.
O'Halloran's many publications include “Metallochaperones: An intracellular shuttle service for metal ions”; “Molecular Basis of Selectivity and Zeptomolar Sensitivity by CueR”; “Post-translational Modifications in Cu, Zn-Superoxide Dismutase and Mutations Associated with Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis.”
O'Halloran has a joint appointment between the department of chemistry and the department of biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology and is a group leader in the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. He also serves as director of the new Chemistry of Life Processes Institute at Northwestern. This institute will bring together researchers from a variety of fields, including synthetic and medicinal chemistry, proteomics, nanobiotechnology, inorganic physiology and biological molecular imaging.