From left, Marla Berry and Peter Hoffman

The Journal of Biological Chemistry selected a scientific article on the unique family of proteins containing selenium by Marla Berry and Peter Hoffmann as among the research highlights of the year in the biomedical sciences. Berry and Hoffmann are University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine professors.

Selenium is an antioxidant nutrient that can protect humans from metabolic, cardiovascular, inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as many forms of cancer. Most plants and animal-based foods contain selenium, and seafood is particularly rich in this nutrient

“Selenium was originally thought to be toxic and then in the middle of the last century (the late 1950’s) it was discovered that it was essential in animal diets and human diets for preventing a number of diseases from developing,” said Berry, professor and chair of cell and molecular biology.

Berry and Hoffmann selected to host international selenium symposium

In an additional honor, Berry and Hoffmann were picked to be organizers of the 12th International Symposium on Selenium in Biology and Medicine, which will be held in Honolulu in 2021. Hoffmann said that distinction brings added attention to local academic research and a boost to Hawaiʻi’s economy.

“The idea is that it will be roughly 200 to 250 people—experts from all over the world. They will be congregating here and its good for the economy, it’s good for our institution because we will be able to promote some of the research that is done here—some of the top-quality research,” said Hoffmann, professor of cell and molecular biology.

—By Tina Shelton