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Gloria Ferreira, Ph.D.

  • Our main research interest is defining the reaction and regulatory mechanisms of the first and terminal heme biosynthetic pathway enzymes, 5-aminolevulinate synthase (ALAS) and ferrochelatase (FC). Iron overload is a clinically important feature of sideroblastic anemia, X-linked SA, and myelodysplastic syndrome, which often results from either ineffective hematopoiesis or the repeated transfusions undergone by the patients to manage their erythropoietic defects. The pathological consequences of mitochondrial mishandling of iron and heme synthesis are also evident in erythropoietic porphyrias. There is no cure for the above disorders, and thus understanding the mechanisms of the terminal stages of erythropoiesis becomes necessary for discovering novel therapeutic targets. Towards this goal, our on-going research focuses on establishing 1) whether succinyl-CoA synthetase b-subunit allosterically fine-tunes the activity of erythroid ALAS and 2) the mechanism of Fe2+ delivery to FC.

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Post Docs

  • Characterization of Toxoplasma gondii cell cycle regulated protein kinases.

Ph.D. Students

  • My current research focuses on understanding the role of the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) in pancreatic cancer. It is well known that pancreatic cancer has a poor prognosis and very low 5-year survival rates. Early detection poses a challenge mainly owing to the location of this organ and a non-symptomatic progression. At the molecular level, the oncogene RAS is known to be mutated and overexpressed in this cancer and the signaling pathways are somewhat understood. Using several pancreatic cancer cells lines, our recent findings show that APP is overexpressed in most pancreatic cancer cells lines as well. Preliminary studies have shown that APP can regulate RAS transcription levels and knock down of APP can inhibit RAS protein expression. Using this information, my project aims to understand the mechanism of regulation of RAS by APP and to establish APP, its processed fragments, and associated signaling pathways as possible targets for drug development against pancreatic cancer.