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Council for BioIron at CHORI (CeBIC)

Council Chair: Elizabeth C. Theil, Ph.D.

Administrative Coordinator: Margaret McGuirk

The treatment of some genetic diseases--such as hemochromatosis, sickle cell disease, and thalassemia--with transfusions, can lead to too much iron (literally “rusting") and tissue damage. On the other hand, 30% of the world suffers from iron deficiency. Iron is also at the center of a competition between people and infectious bacteria. Why is iron so important? Iron is used to catalyze key reactions in DNA synthesis, respiration, and photosynthesis. In living tissues, iron--which is very reactive and can, with oxygen and water produce free radicals-- is safely accumulated in the special protein, ferritin. People, bacteria, plants, and all other animals, including insects and protozoa, depend on similar forms of ferritin. There is no other protein substitute. Ferritin is the safe way to concentrate iron normally and to store excess iron, until ferritin reaches saturation in disease states.

Molecular BioIron Investigators in the Council for BioIron at CHORI (CeBIC) are developing new ways to remove/chelate excess iron in ferritin, to activate mRNA and ferritin production for safe iron storage, to understand the chemistry of iron and oxygen in disease, and to develop seed ferritin iron as a sustainable way to overcome nutritional iron deficiency. Clinical BioIron Investigators in CeBIC are following ferritin in patients with sickle cell disease and thalassemia, developing chelation therapies and noninvasive ways to measure the iron in tissues with advanced instrumentation.

CeBIC Molecular Research
Elizabeth C. Theil, Ph.D.
Elliott P. Vichinsky, M.D.
Gordon Watson, Ph.D.

Administrative Assistant
Margaret McGuirk
Phone: 510-450-7669


University of California - Berkeley
Christopher Vulpe, M.D., Ph.D.,

University of California - Davis
Bo L. Lonnerdal, Ph.D.,
Christopher L. Bowlus, M.D.,

Kings College London
Andrew T. McKie, Ph.D.,

University of Louisville
John W. Eaton, Ph.D.,

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
H. Holden Thorp, Ph.D.,

Queensland Institute of Medical Research
Lab Head: Greg Anderson, Ph.D.

St. Louis University
Robert E. Fleming, M.D., Ph.D.

CeBIC Clinical Research
Paul Harmatz, M.D.
Bertram H. Lubin, M.D.
Elliott P. Vichinsky, M.D.

CeBIC investigators meet regularly together and with their associates to discuss and develop complementary research. Members also participate in related organizations such as IBIS, the International BioIron Society.


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