SfRBM's Senior Awards Committee has announced that the recipient of the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award is Ohara Augusto, PhD of the University of São Paulo.
Dr. Augusto’s scientific career has always focused on understanding the multiple roles of free radicals and oxidants in physiology and pathophysiology. She received her BS in Chemistry and her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of São Paulo. Her PhD work provided initial evidence that oxyhemoglobin existed as an iron III-superoxide anion complex. Interested in detecting free radicals unambiguously, Augusto moved to post-doctoral work at the Lester Packer laboratory at UC Berkeley. There, she learned the basics of EPR and one year after, she moved to Paul Ortiz de Montellano laboratory to study drug metabolism. Using EPR spin trapping complemented with kinetics, mass spectrometry and other methodologies, her team uncovered the mechanism by which some drugs are metabolized by hemeproteins to carbon-centered radicals that attack the heme group irreversible, inactivating the enzymes.
In Brazil, Augusto teamed with Shirley Schreier to create an EPR facility at the University of São Paulo. She continued to explore the production of oxidants during drug metabolism focusing on medicines used against neglected tropical diseases and investigated the ability of radical metabolites to cleave and add to nucleic acids. By sharing their expertise in EPR and peroxynitrite, Augusto and Radi demonstrated the formation of radicals during the proton- and CO2-catalyzed decomposition of peroxynitrite. Because of the unequivocal characterization of the carbonate radical by fast-flow EPR and isotopic labeling, Dr. Augusto received the Medal for Biology and Medicine of the International EPR Society in 2002. The discovery of nitric oxide as a free radical involved in various cellular processes had a major impact on biology. New oxidants such as peroxynitrite, nitrogen dioxide and carbonate radical were introduced in Redox Biology. More importantly, the physiological actions of nitric oxide unequivocally demonstrated that free radicals and oxidants could act as physiological mediators. Additionally, Augusto wrote a para-didactic book in Portuguese titled “Free Radicals: Good, Bad and Natural” to motivate young Brazilians to investigate in the Redox area.
Ohara became more focused on the influence of CO2 on redox biology since the gas is constantly produced during metabolism and constitutes the main physiological buffer together with bicarbonate. She proposed a mechanism by which CO2 increases the oxidation of biothiols by H2O2 and increases the peroxidase activity of SOD1, producing the carbonate radical. This radical, through formation of ditryptophan cross-links, leads to SOD1 covalent dimerization and aggregation. More recently, it was noted that the accelerating effects of the CO2/HCO3─ pair on H2O2 mediated oxidation of thiol proteins that are confirmed players in cellular redox signaling and demonstrated it for peroxiredoxin 1. Augusto considers that more studies on CO2 redox metabolites are required since the gas levels are rising in the atmosphere and inside modern buildings and there are clear evidences that increased CO2 levels affect human health.
Dr. Augusto has supervised many students who obtained masters and PhD degrees and have become recognized redox scientists.
Dr. Augusto will give a featured lecture at SfRBMs 29th Annual Meeting on Friday, November 18 titled, "From O2 to NO Meeting CO2". She will also be presented with a medal, cash award, and offered an invitation to publish a review article in FRBM.
SfRBM would like to congratulate her on this highly deserved honor.