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Ronald P. Mason, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Immunity, Inflammation, and Disease Laboratory / Free Radical Metabolism Group


Building 101, Room F083
111 T.W. Alexander Drive
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709


Research Topics

The group uses, validates and, most importantly, develops new vanguard technologies for detection of free radicals both in model biochemical in vitro systems and in vivo. The group has five major research areas of significant importance for the field of free radical biology in general and for its environmental and clinical aspects in particular.

  1. Detection and identification of protein- and DNA-derived radicals by immuno-spin trapping (IST). My group developed and validated a new technique, immuno-spin trapping (IST), which combines the specific free-radical reactivity of nitrone spin traps with nitrone-antibody sensitivity and specificity. We can now use IST for detection of DNA-derived free radicals.
  2. Immunological detection of N-formylkynurenine (NFK). We have now developed and validated antiserum to the tryptophan oxidation product (N-formylkynurenine) NFK which is specific for detection of proteins containing tryptophan residues with cleaved indole rings.
  3. In vivo detection of free radicals in inflammation, diabetes, and toxicity: Using ESR in vivo spin-trapping methodology we have now demonstrated free radical generation in animal disease models of inflammation, diabetes, and ketosis. We have identified specific biochemical pathways involved in triggering generation of free radicals that may act as mediators and/or modulators of inflammatory reactions associated with toxicities and diseases.
  4. Detection of protein radical formation resulting from eosinophil peroxidase (EPO)-catalyzed oxidation of sulfite. We have demonstrated that EPO is able to oxidize bisulfite, ultimately forming the sulfate anion radical and that these reactive intermediates can oxidize target proteins to protein radicals. These studies suggest that EPO-dependent oxidative damage may play a role in tissue injury in bisulfite-exacerbated allergic inflammatory disorders including asthma.
  5. Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress (BOSS). A comprehensive study for determining which of the available biomarkers of oxidative stress are most specific, sensitive and selective.

Our studies provide comprehensive analyses and new experimental strategies that can serve to define the environmental conditions that produce free radical stress, and that can localize and quantify free radicals and reactive oxygen species in biological systems at different level of organization and complexity.


Dr. Mason received his B.A. (cum laude) from the University of California at Riverside and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was a research chemist at Veterans Administration Hospital and an assistant professor at University of Minnesota. He has joined NIEHS since 1978. He has also been an adjunct professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and adjunct associate professor at Duke University. He has won Southern Chemist Award (Southeast ACS Region, 1994), International EPR/ESR Society’s Gold Metal (2011) and Silver Metal for Biology & Medicine (1996), Lawrence H. Piette Memorial Lecturer (2002), Special Award from Elsevier for publishing most articles in FRBM (2000-2004), NIEHS Scientist of the Year Award (2006) and Mentor of the Year Award (2008), Lifetime Achievement Award by the Society of Free Radical in Biology & Medicine (2007), and Bruker Award by Royal Society of Chemistry, ESR Spectroscopy Group (2010).

Selected Publications

This page was last updated on May 21st, 2013