The most familiar form of biological oxidation essential to life is the oxidation of sugars and fats to extract usable energy and release water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2), a process dependent on oxygen (O2) as the ultimate acceptor for the electrons released from the nutrients.  Plants during photosynthesis do the opposite, gathering the sun’s energy and CO2 to generate O2 and biomass (sugars, proteins, and other biomolecules) that then serve as energy sources for humans and other species.

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
Redox reactions are at the very core of Life on Earth, or as Albert Szent-Györgyi (pictured), the 1937 Nobel Prize winner for discovery of Vitamin C, said:

“Life Is Nothing But An Electron Looking For A Place To Rest”.

Who is the Center for Redox Biology and Medicine

Officially recognized as a center at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in 2016, having evolved from an interest group established within the Center for Molecular Signaling at Wake Forest University.  

The core mission of the center is to coordinate and facilitate cross-campus, inter-departmental and multidisciplinary basic, clinical and translational research that has the common goal of improving the knowledge and health of everyone, and particularly patients suffering from diseases with underlying oxidative mechanisms of damage such as aging, cancer, obesity-associated diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. 

What we do

We actively engage with academic, philanthropic and industry partners to advance knowledge of redox processes, improve human health, and educate next generation of redox researchers. Our efforts facilitate the translation of fundamental knowledge of redox biology into molecular medicine and the discovery of new creative approaches for disease prevention, diagnosis, and therapy.

Center for Redox Biology and Medicine Members

Redox reactions in medicine

There has been a revolution in the past 25 years as recognition has emerged that a wide range of biological systems and disease processes rely on underlying redox chemistry of proteins and small molecules interacting with various reactive oxygen, reactive nitrogen and reactive sulfur species.  While the emphasis in this area many decades ago was on “free radicals” and the damage they can impart, it is now clear that both radical and non-radical species are important, and these species are not only damaging, but also essential for life’s fundamental processes. 

Even though antioxidants are widely known to remove potentially damaging ROS and having beneficial effects, it is now appreciated that the science is much more nuanced, and depending on individual characteristics and disease context, these could in some cases be harmful to health. 

The members of the Center for Redox Biology and Medicine investigate these processes to advance basic knowledge and clinical practice.

Redox Research Highlighted at the Dean’s Research Symposium

Redox Deans Symposium Research Agenda