B.S. Chemistry, University of Trieste, Italy
Ph.D. Chemistry, University of Texas at Austin
College of Science
Biological and medicinal inorganic chemistry, Involvement of metal ions in cancer biology, Redox chemistry and toxicology
Research in the Tomat laboratory focuses on the chemistry and biology of metal ions and redox-active species, and addresses open questions regarding their involvement in human health and disease. We are particularly interested in the interplay of biological redox processes and metal complexes. We have recently developed a class of antiproliferative chelators that scavenge intracellular iron ions upon reduction/activation by glutathione in cancer cells. The interaction of biological thiolates with arsenic-containing species is an additional area of investigation in this context. Furthermore, we are inspired by bioinorganic chemistry for the design of novel metal complexes active in redox catalysis. Our current work in this area is focused on naturally occurring pyrrole-based compounds (e.g., bacterial prodigiosins, biopyrrins from heme metabolism) and on their role as redox-active ligands in coordination chemistry. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of our queries, the design of research plans in the Tomat laboratory combines principles of synthetic and coordination chemistry with current knowledge of cell metabolism and molecular biology. We employ the tools of synthetic chemistry and a variety of spectroscopic techniques (e.g., NMR, EPR, UV-visible absorption, fluorescence emission) and electrochemical methods for the preparation and characterization of metal complexes both in vitro and in cultured cells.