Molecules in the cell membrane react readily with various reactive oxygen species, and damage to the membrane represent an important mechanism whereby oxidative stress results in biological harm. We use a broad set of tools and techniques to study how oxygen can damage cell membranes. This includes the direct observation of morphological transformations induced in giant unilamellar lipid vesicles (GUVs) during oxidation (see the series of images above) as well as chages in the permeability and phase structure of oxidized membranes.
By better understanding the physical chemistry of membrane oxidation, we hope to better understand diseases such as hyperbaric oxygen toxicity and a wide range of age-related disorders. Futher, we seek to discover new, membrane-based, therapies to counter oxidation damage.