Academics: Faculty

Tokunbo Yerokun, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Office: 404-270-5791


Ph.D. Atlanta University

Began teaching at Spelman in 2012

Courses Taught:

BIO 120 Cell Biology 
BIO 125 Molecular Biology/Genomics
BIO  321Genetics

Research Interests:

  • Molecular Characterization of Cancer Cell Behavior
  • Use of molecular and microscopy analytical platforms to better understand the signaling events by which cancer cells respond to environmental stress stimuli. 
  • Gene Cloning
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Confocal Imaging
  • Cell Culture 

I have research interest in the broad area of biology of cell stress, with the goal of contributing to the better understanding of how cells respond to diverse environmental stress stimuli. Cells are persistently exposed to toxic agents especially, environmental stressors such as chemicals and heat.

The ways mammalian cells, in particular, respond to these agents, appear to have evolved into some form of unifying and highly conserved mechanisms. Such mechanisms are defined by the function and interaction of a group of proteins in a signaling pathway. One such novel stress response protein is the long chain subunit of human serine palmitoyltransferase, designated SPTLC1.

It has been extensively studied within the context of its essential role in the structural integrity of the catalytic heterocomplex responsible for the first reaction in sphingolipid biosynthesis. However and more recently, it is found to be stress responsive, as evidenced by its translocation to focal adhesion sites in stressed cells, as well as, its capacity for crosstalk with a number of other stress response proteins, but its mechanism of action in stress response remains to be fully delineated.

My ongoing research studies focus on using genetically engineered cells in in vitro assay platforms for generating biochemical and molecular profiles that can substantiate functional role(s) for SPTLC1 in hyper thermal and genotoxic stress response.

Cellular response to environmental contaminants is evaluated from a broad perspective encompassing biochemical, ecological, molecular and toxicological principles and methodologies to better define mechanisms of toxic action. Major analytical platforms being utilized in these studies include cell culture, genetic engineering, fluorescence confocal microscopy and chromatography, which allow robust localization, interaction and functional analyses of proteins that regulate defined biological processes especially those whose alteration may pose risk to human health.

My hobbies include road travels, tennis and golf.

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