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Vasilis Vasiliou, PhD

Department Chair and Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Epidemiology (Environmental Health Sciences) and of Ophthalmology and Visual Science and of Environment

Contact Information

Vasilis Vasiliou, PhD

Mailing Address

  • Environmental Health Sciences

    60 College St.

    New Haven, CT 06510

    United States

Research Summary

Dr. Vasiliou’s research focuses on investigating the etiologies and molecular mechanisms of environmentally-induced human diseases, such as liver disease, obesity & diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases. More specifically, research in his laboratory focuses on the means by which the exposome (total exposures throughout life), metabolism (specifically aldehyde dehydrogenases and cytochrome P-450s) and antioxidants (glutathione and catalase) contribute to human health and disease. His laboratory utilizes state-of-the-art integrated system approaches that include metabolomics, lipidomics, redox proteomics, exposomics, tissue imaging mass spectrometry, machine-learning, as well as human cohorts and genetically-engineered mouse models to elucidate mechanisms, and to discover biomarkers and novel interventions for human disease.

Our active research projects include:

  • Utilization of novel mass spectrometry-based metabolomics/lipidomics/redox proteomics, tissue imaging mass spectrometry, and their integration by machine-learning techniques to discover biomarkers for and pathogenic mechanisms of alcoholic liver disease (ALD).
  • Identifying unique metabolomic signatures in biological samples that predict clinical outcomes in COVID-19 patients.
  • Investigating the role of redox biology in the development of eye disease (microphthalmia), alcohol-associated liver damage, and obesity & diabetes, with special focus on transcription factors (NRF-2), antioxidants (glutathione) and antioxidant enzymes (catalase).
  • Characterizing aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDHs) and CYP450s in gene-environment interactions in human disease. Active investigations include ALDH3A1/1A1 cellular defense against UV-radiation; ALDH1B1 and other alcohol metabolizing enzymes in human colon cancer; ALDH2/ALDH1A1 in neurodegenerative diseases, CYP2E1 in acetaminophen-associated attention deficit disorders.
  • Elucidating emerging environmental contaminants, such as 1,4-dioxane and PFAS, in human disease by combined epidemiological and molecular approaches.

Other areas of active research in the form of international collaborations include the role of exposome in influencing the severity of asthma in children and in hastening aging.

Drug discovery also represents an area of active research interest in the laboratory. In a multi-investigator collaboration involving several universities and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), the laboratory has been developing small molecules designed to enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy and radiotherapy of cancer.

Specialized Terms: Integrated multi-omics (metabolomics/lipidomics, redox proteomics, and trascriptomics), Cellular Responses to Environmental Stress, Gene-Environment Interactions; Alcohol Metabolism and Disease; Aldehyde Dehydrogenases and Glutathione in Metabolism and Disease (specifically, obesity diabetes, and cancer), Cancer Drug Discovery.

Extensive Research Description

  • Alcohol and Colon Cancer
  • Alcohol and Drinking Behavior
  • Ocular Crystallins as Cellular Response to UV radiation
  • Glutathione in Eye Development
  • Glutathione in Obesity & Diabetes
  • Drug Discovery (Targeting Cancer Stem Cells)

Research Interests

Alcoholism; Aldehyde Dehydrogenase; Diabetes Mellitus; Environmental Health; Glutathione; Gout; Ophthalmology; Genomics

Public Health Interests

Cancer; Environmental Health; Genetics, Genomics, Epigenetics; Metabolism; Nutrition; Substance Use, Addiction; Metabolomics; COVID-19