Beatriz Zayas, Ph.D.
Welcome to the Chemical, Environmental and Molecular Toxicology Laboratory (ChEMTox Lab). The ChEMTox facilities at Universidad Metropolitana are directed by Dr. Beatriz Zayas, from the School of Environmental Affairs. The Laboratory was inaugurated on December 2005 and has been developed thanks to the financial support from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Universidad Metropolitana. The laboratory is a very important step in the transformation of Universidad Metropolitana from a primary teaching institution to a teaching-research oriented institution.
The ChEMTox hosts research projects in the area of environmental toxicology and drug development. In terms of drug development our group focuses on characterizing the therapeutic potential of novel compounds designed by synthetic or medicinal chemist such as Dr. Osvaldo Cox. An ongoing NIH funded project targets the interaction of potential anti cancer agents with cellular organelles such as mitochondria and DNA.
In this context tumor and normal cells are treated in culture and their cytotoxicity, apoptosis induction and mitochondrial damage potential are monitored. The developments of diagnostics markers are also explored and researched at our laboratory. Findings in this area have generated multiple scientific publications and a patent pending submission for novel fluorescent markers.
In the environmental toxicology area we are interested in monitoring the presence of known environmental carcinogens such as PAHs in the environment including isolation from sediments, fish and plants. Techniques such HPLC and tandem masspectrometry are being applied. Understanding the bioactivity of these environmental contaminants detected levels is a key aspect of our study since this information can be translated into risk assessment as a way of protecting exposed populations.
A key aspect of this unique facility at UMET is the opportunity offered to select graduate students from the School of Environmental Affairs and undergraduate students from the School of Science and Technology to participate on the ongoing projects and to gain research experience and analytical skills. Annually Dr. Zayas and/or members of the ChEMTox participate on international or local scientific meetings where the research findings can be shared with the scientific community.