Distinguished Professor: David Petering

An internationally recognized expert on the effect of metals on biological systems.
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David Petering

Ph.D., University of Michigan

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As a professor of chemistry at 澳门太阳城 since 1971, David Petering has become an internationally recognized expert on the effect of metals on biological systems. He is director of the Institute of Environmental Health at 澳门太阳城, as well as director of the Marine and Freshwater Biomedical Sciences Center, supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and housed at the 澳门太阳城 Great Lakes WATER Institute.

One area Petering studies is the chemical and cellular mechanisms of “metallodrugs,” such as iron Bleomycin. An anti-cancer drug used primarily in head and neck cancers, Bleomycin is typically used in combination with other drugs. It may be prescribed as part of a so-called “drug cocktail” to treat Kaposi’s sarcoma (usually in patients affected by HIV/AIDS).

Bleomycin—a natural substance obtained from a microorganism—breaks up the DNA genetic material in cancer cells, effectively stopping them from dividing and spreading throughout the body. To understand how this happens, Petering and his team sought an analogous substance that would reveal the drug’s structure. “After many attempts, we found that cobalt bleomycin served as an excellent model for iron bleomycin,” Petering says.

“The only way one can move forward with new ideas is to possess the understanding of how a process works. That forms the foundation of knowledge.”

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A third area of Petering’s research centers on the body’s metabolism of zinc. He has made major contributions to the area of tumor cell zinc biochemistry.

All of Petering’s funding is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 2006-’07, Petering received more than $750,000.