Thomas O’Halloran, Ph.D., is a MSU Foundation Professor in the Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics and the Department of Chemistry. Dr. O’Halloran’s research focuses on new inorganic compounds that could lead to a treatment for certain types of blood, breast, and brain cancers.
O’Halloran earned his Ph.D. in Bioinorganic Chemistry from Columbia University and he also holds a M.A. in Chemistry from the University of Missouri. He completed his postdoctoral training at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to joining MSU, Dr. O’Halloran was a faculty member at Northwestern University.
Dr. O’Halloran’s research program focuses on how the discovery of soluble metal receptor proteins, the pathways they participate in, and the mechanisms by which they regulate cellular events and the physiology of the organism. This group adopts an interdisciplinary approach to elucidate chemical mechanisms, protein structures, biochemistry, regulatory metal ion fluxes and physiology of metal receptors. Dr. O’Halloran’s work has defined a new family of metal receptors that regulate gene expression in response to changes in metal ion concentration – the metalloregulatory proteins. He is also known for his work establishing another class of metal-receptors known as metallochaperone proteins, which govern metal flow through the cell. More recently he is focusing on the inorganic phenotypes of metastatic breast cancer: this work reveals how cells differentially control iron, copper and zinc quotas in normal and tumorigenic cells. Related studies led to the discovery of anticancer agents, including platinum-family drugs, that target emerging metal-regulated pathways.