Current Projects

  • Cell Survival and Wound Healing

    Acute tissue injury disrupts cellular connections to the extracellular matrix.  This induces complex intracellular signaling that involves mitochondrial damage, the elevation of reactive oxygen species and increased zinc trafficking.  Our goal is to: 1. better understand the extent metallothioneins are involved in one or more of these processes 2. develop ancillary treatments that may improve wound repair and regeneration, during envenomation tissue injury.

    As a part of this investigation we have developed a new agarose based assay that will allow microscopic examination of injury formation in endothelial cellular monolayers.

    huvec zinc venom

    Time lapse movie:  Endothelial monolayer retraction in response to venom stimulation.  Fluorescent images of endothelial cells preloaded with zinc fluorescent probe, FluoZin-3AM.

  • Centruroides vittatus (bark scorpion) Transcriptomics Project

    We have partnered with Texas A&M International University to better understand how environmental influences such as foraging behavior may influence venom composition in Centruroides vittatus (bark scorpions).  Foraging behavior is a critical component to an organism's success and changes in some species through ontogeny. We are investigating venom toxicity and venom gland gene expression between juvenile and adult scorpions under isolated conditions. Our current project will use our transcriptome build to identify key venom gland genes differentially expressed in juvenile and adult scorpions. 

    Bark Scorpion


     PloS ONE article