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Jessica D'eon

Jessica D'eon

Academic Title: Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream

Phone: 416-978-7283

Office: LM 119



My research interests involve understanding the disposition of xenobiotic chemicals both in the environment and the body. With this focus in mind we have looked at the oxidation of fluorinated alcohols to fluorinated aldehydes via alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzymes.

The purpose of this investigation was to better understand the toxicological significance of the fluorinated aldehydes. The precursors to the aldehydes, the fluorinated alcohols, are primary degradation products of commercial fluorochemicals and human exposure to these compounds is established. The resulting fluorinated aldehydes are strongly electrophilic and have documented toxicity. However, their toxicological importance depends upon their ability to migrate from the location of aldehyde production to the site of toxic action. If fluorinated alcohols are oxidized by a set of enzymes that are able to perform a concerted oxidation from alcohol to carboxylic acid without releasing a significant amount of aldehyde (as is likely via the P450 suite of enzymes) the fluorinated aldehydes may have little toxicological significance. As ADH enzymes are specific to the first oxidation step from alcohol to aldehyde there is increased likelihood that the fluorinated aldehyde will be released into the cytosol where it can diffuse throughout the cell and cause cellular damage. An examination of yeast and equine ADH enzymes showed little activity towards the fluorinated alcohols, experiments using human ADH enzymes are on going.

In addition to answering the fundamental research question above, I am also interested in developing mechanisms in which to incorporate fundamental research activities into higher-level undergraduate classes. In CHM410 Analytical Environmental Chemistry we are exploring the distribution of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in urban surface waters around the GTA, a research objective that is also being tackled at the Ministry of the Environment. In CHM410 we are also developing a lab where the students will investigate the health benefits versus the risks of consuming various types of fish by analyzing for nutritive organic compounds (such as omega-3 fatty acids), as well as organic contaminants (such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)) and toxic heavy metals (such as lead and mercury)