Bioactive Lipids and Metabolism in Health and Disease

Microscopic cells [View Image]Investigators in this internationally recognized research group, which encompasses a large portion of the department’s research efforts, are using biochemical molecular and genetic approaches to further understand metabolism, signaling and function of bioactive lipids in health and disease.

New and unexpected biological functions, biosynthetic pathways and receptors are being revealed for lipids and metabolites and highlights our growing understanding of their complex functions. Bioactive lipid mediators are now recognized to regulate broad swaths of physiological and pathophysiological functions, including those involved in an expanding list of diseases, including:

  • Allergies
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Immune system disorders
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Neuropathic pain

As we expand our understanding of metabolism and the role of lipid mediators, we increase the opportunity to develop and implement novel therapeutics for a range of diseases.

Current areas of research include:

  • Dysregulation of lipid signaling in metabolic diseases
  • Role of lipids signaling in asthma and other inflammatory diseases
  • Basic mechanistic studies of the regulation of lipid synthesis and lipid-based signaling
  • Highly sensitive and specific measurement of lipids

Lipidomics and Metabolomics Core

Housed in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the VCU Lipidomics and Metabolomics Core (VLMC) facility provides cost-effective and quantitative lipid and small metabolite analyses for VCU Massey Cancer Center members. This state-of-the-art facility is one of only a few in the country with the experience and expertise to quantitatively measure dozens of sphingolipids and hundreds of eicosanoids from samples with extremely low abundance, such as tissue biopsies. Other quantifiable lipids include fatty acids, glycerophospholipids, sterols and sterol esters and steroid hormones. 

Learn more about Lipidomics/Metabolomics at Massey Cancer Center

The facility contains the following instruments for members to use:

  • Tandem triple quadruple/linear ion trap mass spectrometers for quantitative measurement of a range of lipids over multiple orders of magnitude difference in abundance in a single run, including:
    • Two high-end AB SCIEX 4000 QTRAPs
    • An AB SCIEX 5500 QTRAP
    • An AB SCIEX 6500 QTRAP
  • AB SCIEX Quadrupole Time of Flight (QTOF 5600+) mass analyzer for investigative analysis of biological systems. This mass analyzer is an effective hypotheses generator, allowing the identification of perturbations in the metabolome/lipidome during the onset and progression of disease as well as with different treatments. Generated hypotheses can easily be validated in large sample cohorts in a targeted fashion using the above targeted systems.

 

Education

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology offers two robust, research-focused programs for graduate students.

Faculty

Jeremy Allegood, Ph.D. [View Image]

Jeremy Allegood, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Jeremy Allegood, Ph.D. [View Image]

Jeremy Allegood, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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Lauren Cowart, Ph.D. [View Image]

Lauren Cowart, Ph.D.

Professor

Lauren Cowart, Ph.D. [View Image]

Lauren Cowart, Ph.D.

Professor

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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Xianjun Fang, Ph.D. [View Image]

Xianjun Fang, Ph.D.

Professor

Xianjun Fang, Ph.D. [View Image]

Xianjun Fang, Ph.D.

Professor

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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Gregorio Gil, Ph.D. [View Image]

Gregorio Gil, Ph.D.

Professor

Gregorio Gil, Ph.D. [View Image]

Gregorio Gil, Ph.D.

Professor

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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Christopher D. Green [View Image]

Christopher D. Green

Instructor

Christopher D. Green [View Image]

Christopher D. Green

Instructor

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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David Montefusco, PhD. [View Image]

David Montefusco, PhD.

Assistant Professor

David Montefusco, PhD. [View Image]

David Montefusco, PhD.

Assistant Professor

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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Can Senkal, Ph.D. [View Image]

Can Senkal, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Can Senkal, Ph.D. [View Image]

Can Senkal, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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Sandeep Singh, Ph.D. [View Image]

Sandeep Singh, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Sandeep Singh, Ph.D. [View Image]

Sandeep Singh, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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Sarah Spiegel, Ph.D. [View Image]

Sarah Spiegel, Ph.D.

Chair, Professor

Sarah Spiegel, Ph.D. [View Image]

Sarah Spiegel, Ph.D.

Chair, Professor

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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Brian Wattenberg, Ph.D. [View Image]

Brian Wattenberg, Ph.D.

Professor

Brian Wattenberg, Ph.D. [View Image]

Brian Wattenberg, Ph.D.

Professor

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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