My interdisciplinary research program encompasses studies of multixenobiotic resistance in marine organisms at the level of the ecosystem, population, and organism, down to the cellular and molecular realms. This work combines marine environmental toxicology and ecology by integrating field research studying intertidal biodiversity at gradients from polluted coastal sites with cell biology studies of the metabolism and excretion of environmental contaminants in pollutant-tolerant organisms.
These results are further applied to address the marine management issues of pollution abatement and conservation. Although the diversity of intertidal species decreases dramatically with increased proximity to a pollution source such as a pulp mill, a small number of hardy species are found adjacent to pollution sources which tolerate chronic exposure to hazardous environmental contaminants.
My interest is to identify these hardy species through field studies then in the laboratory elucidate the underlying biochemical and molecular mechanisms that contribute to their multixenobiotic resistance phenotype. My studies focus on a multixenobiotic resistance strategy analogous to multidrug resistance (MDR) conferring by ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters that facilitate the cellular export of a wide variety of environmental toxicants. We investigate how the activities of xenobiotic transporters (including ABC B1, B11, C1, C2, C3, & G2) interact with drug metabolizing enzymes (CYP1A1, GST, etc.) to influence bioavailability and toxicity of environmental contaminants.
Elucidating the function and regulation of xenobiotic transporters is an important issue in human health because defects in ABC transporters are responsible for several human genetic diseases and ABC transporters facilitate the cellular efflux of certain anti-cancer drugs in human tumours thus conferring MDR and confounding chemotherapy.
• Elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms that contribute to multixenobiotic resistance
• Characterize the roles of ABC transporters in resistance to different classes of environmental toxicants
• Establish the effects of environmental contaminants on marine diversity and ecosystem health
• Developing indices of aquatic and coastal ecosystem health and facilitate effective translation of science to inform environmental management and policy
• Successfully mentor students to be innovative and independent ecotoxicology researchers
- Dalhousie University Senate Environmental Award
- NSERC Discovery Grant
- Canadian Foundation for Innovation New Opportunities Award
- Atlantic Innovation Fund
- NSERC Strategic Project Grant Ocean Environment
- NSERC Strategic Network Grant Canadian Healthy Oceans Network
- NSERC Research Tools and Instruments
- SSHRC Research Development Fund for Humanities & Social Sciences