High molecular weight polyphenols, aka "tannins", have three characteristic chemical activities: Protein binding, antioxidant potential, and metal binding. We explore how those chemical activities affect biological systems. Because tannins are plant natural products, their activities can be manifested in plants, in soils, in plant-based foods and beverages, and in animals that ingest plants. We have examined specific examples of all of these, often in collaboration with other labs that specialize in specific biological systems.
A goal of our lab is to understand how tannin structure influences function. In the older literature, "tannin" refers to a heterogenous mixture of poorly defined plant polyphenols. We try to use purified single compounds or well characterized nearly homogeneous preparations of tannins in our studies, and employ modern methods of structure determination to characterize the materials we use.
Graduate students, undergraduate students, postdocs and visiting scientists are all important contributors to our efforts.