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48th Annual Naff Symposium

Oxidative Stress in Neurodegeneration: Focus on Alzheimer Disease

Schedule of Events - April 21, 2023


Registration and Continental Breakfast
WT Young Library Gallery


Welcome -

Dr. Eli Capilouto, President, University of Kentucky

Dr. Robert DiPaola, Provost, University of Kentucky

Dr. Lisa Cassis, Vice President for Research, University of Kentucky

Dr. Mark Lovell, Chair, Department of Chemistry, University of Kentucky

Dr. D. Allan Butterfield, Organizer, 48th Naff Symposium, University of Kentucky


Dr. Barry Halliwell, National University of Singapore
"Is ergothioneine a factor against neurodegeneration and a promotor of healthy ageing?"


Dr. Marzia Perluigi, Sapienza University of Rome
"Redox imbalance and metabolic defects in the brain of Down Syndrome: a synergistic path to Alzheimer's neurodegeneration"


Lunch & Break


Dr. Mark Mattson, Johns Hopkins University
"Sculptor and Destroyer"


Break & Poster Session Set-Up
WT Young Library Gallery; Jacobs Science Building, Atrium


Poster Session
Jacobs Science Building, Atrium


Presentation of Poster Awards
Jacobs Science Building, Atrium


Close-off of the 48th Naff Symposium
Jacobs Science Building, Atrium



Dr. Barry Halliwell

Singapore University

D. Phil. (Oxford), D. Sc. (London) Chairman, BMRC Advisory Council (BMAC), Agency for Science, Technology & Research (A*STAR) Distinguished Professor, Department of Biochemistry , National University of Singapore (NUS) Senior Advisor, Academic Appointments and Research Excellence, Office of the Senior Deputy President and Provost, NUS Programme Leader, Neurobiology Research Programme, Life Sciences Institute

Professor Halliwell graduated from Oxford University with BA (first class honours) and D.Phil degrees. He holds a Doctor of Science degree from the University of London. He was a faculty member with King’s College London (1974-2000) and held a prestigious Lister Institute Research fellowship. He was a Visiting Research Professor of Internal Medicine and Biochemistry at the University of California Davis (1995-1999). He now holds several key positions in Singapore, as indicated above. Professor Halliwell is recognized for his seminal work on the role of free radicals and antioxidants in biological systems, being one of the world’s most highly-cited researchers with a Hirsch-Index of 168 (Based on Scopus, Jan 2023). His Oxford University Press book with John Gutteridge Free Radicals in Biology and Medicine, now in its fifth edition (2015) is regarded worldwide as an authoritative text. He was honoured as a Citation Laureate (2021) for pioneering research in free-radical chemistry including the role of free radicals and antioxidants in human disease. The distinction is awarded by Clarivate to researchers whose work is deemed to be of “Nobel Class” as they are among the most influential, even transformative, in their fields. He was one of 16 scientists (only three in Chemistry) listed in the 2021 Hall of Citation Laureates.

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Dr. Marzia Perluigi

Sapienza University of Rome

Marzia Perluigi, PHARMAD, Head of Laboratory of Redox Biochemistry in Neuroscience (LRBN). Professional appointments: Professor of Biochemistry, Department of Biochemical Sciences “A. Rossi Fanelli – Medical School Sapienza University of Rome” Fields of Expertise: Biochemistry and cell biology.

The major research interest is the study of the role of oxidative stress in Down Syndrome (DS) and Alzheimer Disease (AD). Projects involve both the analysis of post-mortem brains, biological fluids and cellular and animal models of the diseases. In particular, current projects focus on defects of energy metabolism, failure of protein quality control (UPS and autophagy), impairment of mitochondrial activity, both in DS and AD. Further, preclinical studies are ongoing to test the neuroprotective effects of selected compounds able to prevent/slow the onset of dementia.

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Dr. Mark Mattson

Johns Hopkins University

Mark Mattson is the former Chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging, and is now on the faculty of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research has advanced an understanding of the cellular signaling mechanisms that control the formation and plasticity of neuronal networks in the brain, and cellular and molecular mechanisms of brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders. His research has also elucidated how the brain responds adaptively to challenges such as fasting and exercise, and he has used that information to develop novel interventions to promote optimal brain function throughout life. Dr. Mattson is among the most highly cited neuroscientists in the world with more than 900 publications and 200,000 citations. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has received many awards including the Metropolitan Life Foundation Medical Research Award and the Alzheimer’s Association Zenith Award.

Mattson is the author of the book The Intermittent Fasting Revolution: The Science of Optimizing Health and Enhancing Performance.

2023 Naff Symposium Committee

Prof. Allan Butterfield - Chair

Prof. Marcelo Guzman - (Chemistry)

Prof. Daret St. Clair - (Toxicology/Cancer Biology)

WT Young Library Auditorium
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Exit Seminar: "Translating chemistry, structure, and processing to the solid-state morphology and function of organic semiconductors through computational modeling and simulations"

Chamikara Karunasena

Graduate Student Profile

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Abstract: The immense synthetic design space and material versatility have driven the exploration and development of organic semiconductors (OSC) over several decades. While many OSC designs focus on the chemistries of the molecular or polymer building blocks, a priori, multiscale control over the solid-state morphology is required for effective application of the active layer in a given technology. However, molecular assembly during solid-state formation is a complex function interconnecting the building block chemistry and the processing environment. Insufficient knowledge as to the how these aspects engage, especially at the atomistic and molecular scales, have so far limited the ability to predict OSC solid-state morphology, leaving Edisonian approaches as the stalwart methods. Therefore, through multiscale simulations combining atomistic quantum scale modeling and modern advanced sampling molecular dynamics (MD), we aim to establish first principles understanding required to synthetically regulate solid-state morphology of organic semiconductors (OSC) as a function of molecular chemistry and processing. In turn we try to understand the deceivingly simple yet complex mechanisms behind molecular aggregation and crystallization of OSC. Simultaneously, we develop semi-to-fully automated high-throughput schemes to automate the complex and labor-intensive analyses to generate data based on various crystal structures in different crystallization environments. Ultimately, we aim to bridge molecular-scale information revealed on solid-state physical organization, understood in the context of chromophore chemistry and the molecular environment, with the macro scale properties to uncover useful guidelines for rational design and morphology regulation of OSC systems.

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Exit Seminar: "Application Of Mass Spectrometry For Characterization Of Plant-Based Phenolics And Alkaloids: Paving The Way For Developing Plant-Derived Value-Added Compounds"

Graduate Student Profile

Abstract: Plant-derived compounds have the potential to produce value-added compounds with a variety of applications. For example, the lignin part of the lignocellulosic biomass, produced in large quantities as waste from the paper and pulp industries, is a rich source of phenolics with potential applications in the renewable energy sector, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries. On the other hand, plant alkaloids are the primary source for developing plant-derived therapeutics. Unfortunately, the recalcitrant nature of plant cell walls, low extraction yields of small secondary metabolites, and the lack of effective analytical methods for a rapid and accurate identification of plant-based compounds and plant’s degradation products are the major limitations in plant-based valorization efforts.

In order to address some of these challenges, this dissertation focuses on utilizing different mass spectrometry-based techniques such as UHPLC-MS, GC-MS, and direct infusion high-resolution accurate orbitrap and ion trap mass spectrometry for the detection and structure elucidation of plant-based phenolics and alkaloids in order to contribute to ongoing efforts toward valorization of plant-based compounds. Mass spectrometry-based techniques are widely used in pharmaceutical and chemical industries, and have been emerged as one of the most promising analytical techniques for the analysis of plant-based compounds.

In the second chapter of this dissertation, a mass spectrometric method based on lithium cationization was developed to sequence lignin model oligomers with mixed bonding motifs, with a potential application in facilitating the structure elucidation of lignin degradation end products with β-β and β-O-4 linkages. In the third chapter, an important lignan, syringaresinol, was characterized in bourbon whiskey. The origin of syringaresinol was investigated using a model aging experiment to further our understanding of bourbon’s chemical composition. In chapter four, the development of a mild ethanosolv treatment combined with a GC-MS method enabled the detection of several different phenolic compounds in lignocellulosic biomass, which can be potentially used to rapidly compare different biomass samples for the valorization applications. Lastly, in chapter five, synthetic methods in combination with extensive mass spectrometry-based analysis were used to semi-synthesize new plant-based alkaloids with potential applications in drug discovery and development.

Overall, these studies confirm that mass spectrometry-based techniques provide a sensitive and robust analytical platform for the analysis of plant-based products.


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