Research

Research in the Heffern Lab sits at the interface of bioinorganic chemistry, analytical chemistry, chemical biology, metabolism, and nutrition. As the body’s primary communication network from one organ to another, the endocrine system requires coordination of dynamic biochemistry from the molecular level to the whole organism. We are seeking to uncover the roles and applications of metals in the endocrine system in an area that we term “metalloendocrinology.” With an interdisciplinary approach and diverse expertise, we are working to gain insight and develop therapeutic solutions to endocrine disorders spanning diabetes, liver disease, and cancer. We are tackling problems in “metalloendocrinology” through three major approaches: 1) investigating the bioinorganic chemistry of peptide hormones, 2) evaluating the impact and applications of metal-binding to small-molecule endocrine modulators, and 3) developing new tools for studying metals in the extracellular space in intact and living organisms.