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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2000;899:1-14.

Fifty years of radical ideas.

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Unit on Reactive Oxygen Species, BNP, NINDS, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-4156, USA.


My role in the free radical theory of oxygen toxicity is discussed. Rebeca Gerschman and I published several papers on this subject. This sparked my interest in geochemistry and I developed the idea that oxygen was the best qualified biological potential energy source for the following reasons: great abundance, easily accessible, possession of a high thermodynamic potential, and its slow reaction rate. Ionization radiation can be viewed as a catalyst for reactive oxygen species since a killing dose imparts an infinitesimal small amount of energy. Next, Carol A. Colton and I showed that in the mammalian brain that stimulated microglia produce the superoxide radical anion and its implications in Alzheimer's disease is discussed. More recently, I have become interested in the role of sulfhydryl groups in transcription factors.

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