Oxygen is vital for life. During respiration we harness the energy released when it is converted to water and use it to drive chemical synthesis, movement, brain activity and maintenance of cell function. However, some of the oxygen is only partially reduced and is released as hydrogen peroxide and free radicals. These are reactive and biologically damaging species, and the only reason we can survive is that we have an elaborate array of antioxidant defences to handle them. Free radicals are generated in a wide array of biological processes. In some cases this is associated with toxicity, however, the body also makes use of these toxic species by generating them in white blood cells for the purpose of killing bacteria and protecting against infection. This lecture will discuss the good and the bad aspects of the biological chemistry of free radicals.
Professor Christine Winterbourn is an Auckland University chemistry graduate who received her PhD in biochemistry from Massey University and now has a personal chair in the Pathology Department, University of Otago, Christchurch where she directs a Health Research Council Programme. Her research interests are in the biochemistry of free radical reactions and the involvement of oxidants and antioxidants in health and disease. Her work encompasses mechanisms of antioxidant defence, understanding how white blood cells kill bacteria, and free radical involvement in cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Professor Winterbourn has published more than 250 scientific papers. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and is an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit. She has received the NZ Association of Scientists’ Marsden Medal, Massey University 75th Anniversary Medal, Society for Free Radical Research (Australasia) Distinguished Service Award, University of Otago Distinguished Research Medal and the Society for Free Radical Research (International) Trevor Slater Award for lifetime achievement.
Date: Tuesday 28 June, 2011
Location: Speirs Centre, Palmerston North Boy’s High School, Featherston Street, Palmerston North