The Franco lab aims to understand the signaling mechanisms by which cellular metabolism, redox homeostasis and signaling regulate cellular fate. Mitochondrial dysfunction, alterations in protein quality control mechanisms and the activation/impairment of cell death pathways (apoptosis, necrosis and autophagy) have been associated with the etiology of human diseases. Energy failure and oxidative stress have been implicated in the induction of cell death, but the molecular mechanisms that link redox homeostasis and cellular metabolism to the activation of cell death pathways remain elusive. We strive to identify those mechanisms and provide and insight into potential therapeutic approaches. Our primary focus are neurotoxicity associated with environmental exposures, neurodegeneration, brain ischemia and cancer.

News & Events


  • Dr. Franco is promoted to Associate Editor for Neurotoxicology (Elsevier).

  • Dr. Franco becomes Editorial Board Member for Chemical Research in Toxicology.

  • Dr. Franco is invited to participate at the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Seminar Series of the University of IOWA (Spring 2021).

  • Recent publication: Sahoo BR, Pattnaik A, Annamalai AS, Franco R, Pattnaik AK. Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) Signaling Antagonizes Autophagy to Facilitate Zika Virus Replication. J Virol. 2020; 94(22):e01575-20 PMCID: PMC7592218 (co-corresponding author). Highlighted as the cover for the issue

  • Recent publication: Lasrado N, Jia T, Massilamany C, Franco R, Illes Z, Reddy J. Mechanisms of sex hormones in autoimmunity: a new perspective. Biol Sex Differ. 2020; 11(1):50 PMCID: PMC7475723

  • Recent publication: Rose J, Brian C, Pappa A, Panayiotidis MI, Franco R. Mitochondrial Metabolism in Astrocytes Regulates Brain Bioenergetics, Neurotransmission and Redox Balance. Front Neurosci. 2020; 14:536682 PMCID: PMC7674659 (corresponding author)