Brian S. Cummings
Associate Professor and Director -Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program
Office: Pharmacy South 336
Voice: (706) 542-3792
Dr. Cummings’ laboratory studies molecular mechanisms involved in cell death, with a particular emphasis on the role of lipids. His team is interested in cell death induced by anti-cancer agents and environmental oxidants. Previous work demonstrated roles of phospholipase A2 (PLA2) in apoptosis and necrosis in numerous cell types. The laboratory uses lipidomic approaches, such as two-dimensional, high performance, thin-layer chromatography in tandem with electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (2D-HP-TLC-ESI-MS), to identify lipids altered in prostate cancer cells and kidney cells exposed to anti-cancer agents. Recent work has also used lipidomics to determine how lipid-based nanoparticles are degraded by PLA2 in cancer cells. They hope to use these data to design and track novel nanoparticulate drug carriers and understand their mechanisms of action.
The Cummings laboratory also studies the molecular mechanisms of cell death induced by water disinfection byproducts (DBPs) such as bromate, which are environmental oxidants. Recent studies show that this class of compounds causes kidney cell death by DNA-dependent and independent mechanisms, and that mixtures of these compounds can induce either apoptosis or necrosis. Current studies are focused on epigenetic changes induced in kidney cells after chronic exposure to low levels of DBPs.