Dr. Iqbal Hamza
Animal & Avian Sciences
As an Assistant Professor in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources my work entails: * Conducting cutting-edge research and providing postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate training in nutrition and genetics with emphasis on micronutrient metabolism, * Establishing collaborative relationships with scientists at the USDA-Beltsville Animal Biotechnology Facility, FDA and NIH. * Establishing and teaching undergraduate and graduate courses related to animal genetics and practical recombinant DNA manipulations.
* A major focus of my research is to elucidate the cell biological mechanisms that govern metal homeostasis in mammals. Transition metals such as copper, iron, zinc, and manganese are essential micronutrients for the sustenance of life. Organisms use these metals as cofactors in diverse biochemical pathways.
* Our work is focused on a central intriguing question in biology regarding heme homeostasis that has heretofore been poorly understood. Hemes are ubiquitous iron-containing porphyrins that play a central role in life. Heme is synthesized in the mitochondria via a defined multi-step pathway. Free heme is insoluble in aqueous milieu and is toxic due to inherent peroxidase activity. How then is heme transported through the mitochondrial inner membrane to specific hemoproteins in the endoplasmic reticulum, cytoplasm, mitochondria, peroxisomes, and plasma membrane? We hypothesize that specific pathways must exist for heme transport, sequestration, trafficking, and its eventual insertion into specific apo-proteins in distinct sub-cellular compartments. Beyond this fundamental cell biological question, heme, an iron protoporphyrin, is also the most bioavailable form of dietary iron in humans. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder, and understanding how heme–iron is utilized by humans will permit the design of novel nutritional strategies to ameliorate iron deficiency anemia. We are currently pursuing the genetic and cell biologic characterization of heme homeostasis utilizing microscopy, RNA interference, and biochemical assays in C. elegans and mammalian cells.
Learn more about Dr. Hamza at http://www.ansc.umd.edu/faculty/ihresearch.htm