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Associate Professor Dr. Skorn Mongkolsuk
TRF Senior Research Scholar (Biotechnology) Year 2002

Biography and Research Summary

Dr.Skorn Mongkolsuk received his B.Sc. (Hons) in pharmacology from King's College, University of London, in 1980. A year later, he graduated from Chelsea College, University of London with an M.Sc. degree in Biochemistry. He was also awarded the Sigma Prize for the best overall performance in biochemistry from Chelsea College. He later pursued with Professor Paul S. Lovett from the University of Maryland Baltimore County in 1985. Subsequently, he moved to Laboratory of Biochemistry, National Cancer Institute, National Istitutes of Health, USA for his postdoctoral reseach with Dr.Maxine F. Singer. Upon returning to Thailand, he joined the Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University in 1987 and later moved to the Department of Biotechnology at the same institution. In 1989, he was appointed Head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology, Chulabhorn Research Institutes where he is currently directing an active laboratory. He is also an Associate Professor at the Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University. Dr.Skorn's research since joining Mahidol University and the Chulabhorn Research Institute has focused on how environmental pollutants such as pesticides and heavy metals affect oxidative stress response of soil bacteria, Xanthomonas. He has been awarded many prizes for his accomplishments in research, such as the Outstanding Young Scientist Award (1991), Taguchi Prize for an outstanding researcher from the Thai Society for Biotechnology (1997). Outstanding Scientist Award from the Foundation of the Promotion of Science and Technology under the patronage of His Majesty the King in 1998 and Mahidol University Prize for Research (2000).

Since joining Mahidol University and the Chulabhorn Research Institute, Dr.Skorn's research has focused on the oxidative stress response of soil and phytopathogen Xanthomonas. The work initially started with detailed physiological characterization of oxidant inducible stress responses. Then, he addressed the molecular cloning of genes involved in peroxide stress protection, such as catalase and alkyl hydroperoxide reductase. Characterization of these genes has lead to in depth study on their regulation and the peroxide sensor and transcription regulator OxyR. The work in his laboratory lead to the discovery of a novel family of genes designated ohr for organic hydroperoxide resistance gene. Subsequent work in his and other laboratories around the world has found that ohr is widely distributed in both Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria and play an important role in protecting bacteria from highly toxic organic peroxide. In Xanthomonas and other Gram negative bacteria, ohr by organic peroxide. This work has lead to the discovery of a novel family of transcription regulators and organic peroxide sensor OhrR.

The future work in Dr.Skorn's laboratory will involve detailed characterization of the OhrR family of transcripton reguators and organic peroxide sensors. The sensing mechanism and binding of the protein will be elucidated. Moreover, bacteria such as Agrobacterium and P. aeroginosa have multiple copies of ohrR in their genome. The work will define the function of these different copies and determine if there is any cross regulation between them. The target genes for regulation by OhrR often involve organic peroxide metabolism. The genes coding for ohr, glutathione transferase, and chloroperxidase will be studied and their biochemical mechanisms and physiological roles elucidated. In addition, the ability of heavy metals and pesticides to modulate oxidative stress response will be monitored in soil bacteria and shrimp pathogens such as Vibrio harveyi.

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