December 8, 2006

Morrow, Roberts honored for research on free radicals

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Jason Morrow, M.D.

Morrow, Roberts honored for research on free radicals

L. Jackson Roberts, M.D.

L. Jackson Roberts, M.D.

L. Jackson Roberts, M.D., and Jason Morrow, M.D., received the 2006 Discovery Award from the Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine.

Roberts and Morrow, chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology, were honored for their discovery and pioneering studies of a series of compounds called isoprostanes.

Isoprostanes are produced in the body when free radicals — highly reactive molecules derived from oxygen — attack the lipids that form cell membranes.

Discovery of isoprostanes made it possible for researchers to reliably detect and monitor free radical reactions, also called oxidative stress, in vivo — something that hadn't been possible before.

“Measuring isoprostanes has been shown to be far and away the most accurate way to assess oxidative stress status in vivo,” Roberts said. “This has allowed us to define a fundamental role for free radicals in the pathogenesis of a remarkably diverse, large number of diseases.”

Isoprostanes have been used to implicate free radicals in atherosclerosis, neurodegenerative diseases, the normal aging process, and other diseases.

The number of publications focused on isoprostanes “has increased exponentially,” Roberts said, from a single publication in 1990 — the year of their discovery — to over 250 last year.

“We launched the field of studying free radical biology and oxidative injury out of the test tube and into human disease,” he said.

The investigators received the award and were featured lecturers at the society's annual meeting last month. The Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine, established in 1987, is a professional organization comprised of over 1,400 scientists, researchers and clinicians with an interest in the field of free radical chemistry, biology and medicine, according to the society's Web site.

Roberts is the T. Edwin Rogers Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine. Morrow is the F. Tremaine Billings Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology.