Professor, Eppley Institute
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
PhD - Northwestern University, 1971
Our laboratory uses mass spectrometry to answer questions about protein structure, protein purity, and protein modifications. We have developed methods to identify protein modifications resulting from exposure to organophosphorus pesticides and nerve agents. These poisons make adducts not only on acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase, but also on albumin. The information gained from studying protein adducts is useful for proving exposure and for identifying the type of poison. Low doses that cause no symptoms can nevertheless be detected by analyzing blood samples.
In collaboration with Dr. Steven Hinrichs in the Department of Pathology and Microbiology, we are building a factory on the UNMC campus to make a bioscavenger protein that protects from nerve agent toxicity. Pretreatment with the bioscavenger protein, called butyrylcholinesterase, gives complete protection from nerve agents. A dose has a half-life of about two weeks.