Metallomics Research

The overall goal of my research group is to better understand the bioinorganic mechanisms which causally link the exposure of certain humans populations to toxic metal species with severe adverse health effects and/or diseases (Figure 1). Two particular types of toxic metal species are of particular interest: environmentally abundant non-essential metals/metalloid species (e.g. Cd, Hg, As) to which humans are inadvertently exposed as well as anticancer active metal-complexes (e.g. cisplatin) which are deliberately injected to achieve a pharmacological effect. Both types of toxic metal species enter the bloodstream, but the bioinorganic chemistry that unfolds therein is not well understood although it is critical to better understand organ-based adverse health effects and/or diseases. Gaining insight into these bioinorganic processes requires appropriate analytical tools that allow one to probe biochemical processes that unfold in exceedingly complex biological matrices, such as blood plasma and/or red blood cell cytosol.

Method Development and Application

The Gailer group develops and applies novel instrumental analytical methods to unravel toxicologically relevant interactions of the aforementioned toxic metal species with biomolecules in the bloodstream. These so-called 'metallomics' methods involve the analysis of biological fluids with a separation technique (e.g. size exclusion chromatography) that is hyphenated with a variety of element-specific detectors (e.g. inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy). Ultimately, one research goal is to establish the mechanisms which causally link human exposure to toxic metal species with disease processes. Another important research goal is to assess the stability of anticancer active metal-complexes in blood plasma to identify those that may be accelerated to preclinical and clinical studies. An emerging research theme is the development of novel instrumental methods to rapidly quantify chelating agents in wastewater treatment plant effluents.

Figure 1 Conceptual depiction of the importance of Cd2+ interactions with ligands in the bloodstream in terms of causally linking the chronic exposure of humans


Conference Presentations

Dr. Gailer recently presented the results that provided insight into the stability of a bimetallic anticancer complex in human blood plasma at the 27th International Symposium on Electrophoretic and Liquid Phase Separation Techniques, which was organized by Nanging Normal University on Nov 2-4 2020 in form of a keynote lecture. 

Recent Student Presentations

Available Research Projects for Undergraduate Students

Other Notable Developments