H. Rex Gaskins’ research focuses on host-intestinal microbe interactions relevant to colorectal cancer with a particular interest in microbial sulfur metabolism. Efforts to understand colonic mucosal responses to hydrogen sulfide led to further interest in redox regulation of tumorigenesis, resulting in a long-time collaboration with bioengineering faculty at Illinois to create genetically encoded biosensors and engineer platforms to study redox poise in subcellular compartments in live cells. They are now using these genetically encoded redox biosensors together with 3D-engineered platforms to study how defined mechanochemical features of a solid tumor microenvironment affect the compartmentalization of the cellular redox environment and cancer cell metabolism.
Gaskins has authored over 150 research publications and has won numerous awards, including the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. He serves as Associate Director for Education for CCIL and Deputy Director of the NIH-supported Tissue Microenvironment Training Program.
As Associate Director for Education, he is passionate about leading extensive mentoring and educational programs to inspire interdisciplinary collaborations, sustain a diverse population of cancer researchers, and provide critical educational opportunities for the university and the general public affected by cancer.
Gaskins obtained his Ph.D. in cell biology from the University of Georgia and completed postdoctoral studies in immunology and genetics at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. He joined the faculty at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1992 and is a professor with appointments in the Departments of Animal Sciences, Biomedical and Translational Sciences, and Pathobiology, the Division of Nutritional Sciences, and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.