Year in Program: 4th
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Mentor: Dr. Mackenzie
Peter K. Lauf Award 2016, Ohio Physiological Society
Student Research Excellence Award 2017, East-to-West Iron Club
Local Organizing Committee 2018, Ohio Physiological Society
Graduate Student Research Forum 2018, 3rd Place, UC College of Medicine
Research Recognition Award 2019, East-to-West Iron Club
Graduate Student Research Forum 2020, Honorable Mention, UC College of Medicine
My research is focused on iron transport and homeostasis. I am primarilyinvolved in characterizing the cellular iron exporter ferroportin (Fpn).Expressed in enterocytes, macrophages, and hepatocytes, Fpn is essential forintestinal iron absorption, iron recycling from senescent red blood cells,and stored iron release during times of low iron intake. Fpn is regulatedpost-translationally by the hormone hepcidin, which inhibits Fpn-mediatediron efflux, thereby sequestering iron within cells and reducing its accessto the blood; this regulation is known as the hepcidin/Fpn axis. Therefore,genetic alterations in either hepcidin or Fpn can produce iron pathologiesincluding iron-refractory iron deficiency anemia (as in classical Fpndisease) and iron overload (as in hereditary hemochromatosis).
Despite its importance to systemic iron homeostasis, the thermodynamicdriving force for Fpn-mediated iron efflux remains unknown. I have expressedFpn in RNA-injected Xenopus oocytes and found that calcium activates Fpn-mediatediron transport, but that calcium is not a transported substrate ofFpn. This raises the possibility that Fpn activity could be limited inconditions of hypocalcemia. I continue to examine the molecular physiology ofFpn in the oocyte model and explore potential therapeutic targets for thetreatment of iron disorders.