Professor Forman's laboratory focuses on the molecular biology and biochemistry of signal transduction and cellular adaptation to reactive oxygen species and other electrophiles relevant to the response of the lung to environmental pollution.
Professor Henry Jay Forman is a leading authority on two major human-health topics of increasing global interest. One of them, antioxidants, has captured the imagination of a hopeful public eager to understand their natural capacity to preserve human health. What is it about red wine, spinach, carrots and certain other foods that seems to boost the body’s resistance to disease, including cancer and cardiovascular disease? As the health claims of antioxidant proponents mount, so does the need to separate fact from fiction. Forman can explain the chemical science behind oxidation in the human body, the release of potentially harmful “free radicals” and the role antioxidants play in their neutralization.
A second critical health issue, especially in California's Central Valley, is the effect of poor air quality on human health. For example, alarming increases in the number of children suffering from asthma and other chronic lung diseases have now been well documented – but why are they happening, and what can be done about them? Does science offer any hope in boosting the human body’s ability to withstand or reverse the harmful effects of poor air, including exposure to tobacco smoke? Forman’s extensive research into how the lungs react to and protect themselves against airborne pollutants can inform journalistic work about smog, smoke and other pollution at any level.
Forman is a biochemist with more than 30 years of research and instructional experience. He has written and lectured extensively in his field, with approximately 200 articles, essays, books, opinion pieces and other published materials to his credit. He enjoys explaining the science behind the news in terms that readers at any level can grasp.
Forman holds a B.S. in chemistry from Queen’s College in New York and a Ph. D. in biochemistry from Columbia University. Prior to joining the faculty of UC Merced in 2003, he served as chairman of the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.