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Arno Siraki, BSc(Hon), MSc, PhD

Associate Professor, Director of Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Studies

Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

About Me

Dr. Arno G. Siraki received his Hon.B.Sc with a specialization in toxicology in 1998 from the University of Toronto. Arno continued his graduate studies in the Department of Pharmacology (under the supervision of Dr. Peter J. O’Brien). His MSc thesis was entitled “Antioxidant and Pro-Oxidant Nature of Catecholamines“ and was conferred the degree of MSc in 2000 while working at the same time in a QC lab at GSK (then GlaxoWellcome). He selected a research path and continued graduate studies in Dr. O’Brien’s laboratory as a PhD student. He was awarded an NSERC graduate fellowship for his thesis work (“Development of quantitative structure-activity relationships for metabolic activation of drugs and xenobiotics to reactive metabolites”) and was conferred his PhD in 2004 from the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto. Arno’s post-doctoral studies were carried out at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH), located in Research Triangle Park, NC, USA from 2004 to 2008. Under the guidance of Dr. Ronald P. Mason, Head of the Free Radical Metabolite Group, Arno developed methods to detect protein free radicals through xenobiotic metabolism. Arno was recruited to the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Alberta in 2008 and is currently Associate Professor. His interests involve the association of free radicals with adverse drug reactions, identification of novel electron transfer intermediates (antioxidants), and the biological role of xenobiotic-induced protein free radicals.


Research

Overaching Research Interests:

  • In general, we aim to explore drug toxicity mechanisms using various tools and techniques.
  • Investigating the biochemical mechanisms of adverse drug reactions, with particular emphasis on drugs known to cause idiosyncratic drug reactions. In my group, we aim to identify specific routes of metabolism which lead to reactive metabolites of drugs with known clinical adverse drug reactions or drug toxicity.
  • Investigating drug metabolism in leukaemia cells in order to identify compounds that can sensitize leukaemia cells to chemotherapeutic treatment.


Specific Research Interests:

  • Free radical metabolism of drugs and xenobiotics
  • Proteomic changes from free radical metabolite exposure
  • Electron transfer intermediates and novel antioxidant modulation of free radical metabolism
  • Protein radical formation and consequences
  • Neutrophil and HL-60 catalyzed free radical metabolism
  • Relationship between protein modification and apoptosis
  • Myeloperoxidase and other peroxidase enzymes involved in drugs and xenobiotic metabolism

Specialized Lab Instruments:
  • Electron paramagnetic/spin resonance spectroscopy (EPR or ESR spectroscopy).  This allows our group to detect and characterize free radical intermediate through spin-trapping.  Applications involve drug metabolism, beer stability/quality, membrane fluidity and others.  Analysis can be performed with liquid N2 and at room temperature.
  • HPLC with diode array and charged aerosol detection.
  • Oxygen and H2O2 electrodes for biochemical or cellular studies
  • Hemavet blood analyzer - provides complete blood counts with differential for many species using < 50 uL



Teaching

Teaching Philosophy:

Teaching is a catalyst which compels inquisitive minds to pursue great questions. I recall my own experience as an undergraduate student in the toxicology program at the University of Toronto, where a fourth year lecture on oxygen toxicity ignited my curiosity and led me to pursue my career in research. One of the most important aspects of education through teaching is the connections that are made between teachers and students. This interface of learning – which can go both ways - is fundamentally important to maintaining the excellence in teaching and student achievement.  

My research program as well as my undergraduate teaching is based on an ‘open door’ approach. I do make scheduled appointments if needed, but as learning is a dynamic process, I like to “always” have time for my undergraduate and graduate students. One of the moments I appreciate most is when a student achieves a level of training such that they transition from becoming a student to a colleague. This, I feel, is one of the hallmarks of success in teaching.

Teaching areas:

  • Undergraduate: radiopharmacy and diagnostic imaging; inflammation and autoimmune disease; neuropharmacology; anti-viral pharmacology; reactive oxygen species and free radical toxicology; immunotoxicology
  • Graduate: Toxicology of pharmacuetical agents and related xenobiotics (course); toxicology of reactive metabolites