David Atkinson

David Atkinson, Ph.D.

Professor, Chair emeritus, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology & Biophysics

Plasma Lipoproteins and Apolipoproteins, Structure and Biology:

Cardiovascular disease, together with other diseases of lipid metabolism, remains the number one cause of health problems and death in Western society. The assembly and inter-conversions of the plasma lipoproteins, their receptor interactions, cofactor and enzyme substrate functions, and the cellular uptake of lipids and specific proteins play key roles in the overall regulation of lipid metabolism. Defects in lipid and lipoprotein metabolism express themselves at different levels of these processes. These defects lead to alterations in the composition, molecular structure and properties of the plasma lipoproteins, their apolipoproteins, and the receptors/transporters involved in lipid uptake or removal from cells. In turn, these changes contribute to the pathophysiology of diseases such as atherosclerosis. Ultimately, these physiological processes, together with associated pathophysiology, must be explained in terms of the molecular structures and the molecular interactions of the lipids, the apolipoproteins, and the enzymes and receptors/transporters with which they interact. However, these molecular details remain largely unknown. The long-term objectives of our research are to determine this molecular detail and to understand the structure-function relationships underlying these processes.

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