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Joan E. Roberts


Professor of Chemistry
Office: Lincoln Center 813
Phone: 212-636-6323



Research Interests

Dr. Roberts main area of expertise is the positive and negative effects of light on the human eye. With her collaborators in Milan, Italy; Shanghai, China; Brookhaven National Laboratories, Long Island, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, she studies how UV and blue visible light enhance the formation of cataracts and macular degeneration and studies ways of preventing these age related diseases. In Locarno, Switzerland, Dr. Roberts studies how modification of circadian rhythm influences the human immune system, jet lag and mood (seasonal depression). In addition to over 90 publications in peer reviewed scientific journals, Joan’s work has been published in several prominent “lay journals” including New Scientist, Eye World, Men's Health and on several medical websites, such as ABC, Reuters and BBC News. Joan has been featured on ABC World News Tonight with Bill Blakemore for her research on melatonin/circadian immune responses.

Recent Publications

Roberts, JE. 9 Light and Immunomodulation. NY Acad Sci 917:435-445. (2000)

Roberts, J. E., Ocular Phototoxicity. J. Photochem. Photobiol B: 64:136-143 (2001).

Roberts, JE, Kukielcza, B., Hu, D-N., Miller D. S., Bielski, P., Sik, R.H., Motten A.G. and Chignell C.F. The role of A2E in the protection of and light damage to human retinal pigment epithelial cells. Photochem. Photobiol. 75:184-190 (2002)

Roberts, J. E. Screening for Ocular Phototoxicity. International Journal of Toxicology 21:491-500 (2002)

Hu, D-N, Savage, H. E. and J. E. Roberts. Uveal Melanocytes, Ocular Pigment Epithelium and Muller Cells in Culture: In Vitro Toxicology. International Journal of Toxicology 21:465-472 (2002)

Pawlak, A. Wrona, M, Rozanowska, M., Zareba, M., Lamb, L.E., Roberts, J. E., Simon, J. D. and T. Sarna. Comparison of the Aerobic Photoreactivity of A2E with its Precursor Retinal. Photochem. Photobiol. 77:253-258 (2003)

Wahlman, J., Hirst, M, Roberts, J. E., Prickett, C. D. and Trevitchick, J. R. Focal length variability and protein leakage as tools for measuring photooxidative damage to the lens. Photochem. Photobiol. 78:88-92 (2003)

Photooxidation of Lens Proteins with Xanthurenic Acid- the Putative Chromophore for Cataractogenesis. Roberts, J. E., Wang, R. H., Schey, K. , Wishart, J. F. Lydia Martinez and Chignell, C. F. Advances in Ophthalmology 12 (2004) 226-231.

Roberts, J.E. "Ocular Phototoxicity" In: Dermatotoxicology. Sixth Edition, edited by Marzulli and Maibach, Chapter 24, pp. 449-470, Taylor and Francis, Washington, DC, 2004.

Roberts,J. E. " Screening Dyes, Drugs and Dietary Supplements for Ocular Phototoxicity" In: Photostability of Drugs and Drug Formulation, edited by Hannne Hjorth Tonnesen, Second Edition, Chapter 11,pp. 235-255, CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2004

He, Yu-Ying, Colin F.Chignell, David S. Miller, Usha P. Andley and Joan E.Roberts. Phototoxicity in Human Lens Epithelial Cells Promoted by St. John ’s Wort. Photochemistry and Photobiology, 2004, 80:583 –586.

Roberts, J.E. Update on the Positive Effects of Light in Humans. Photochemistry and Photobiology 81 (2005) 490-492.

Wu, Wen-Chuan, Dan-Ning Hu and Joan E. Roberts. Phototoxicity of Indocyanine Green on Human Retinal Pigment Epithelium in Vitro and its Reduction by Lutein. Photochemistry and Photobiology 81 (2005) 537-540.

Taroni, P., Gianluca Valentini, Daniela Comelli, Cosimo D’Andrea, Rinaldo Cubeddu, Dan-Ning Hu and Joan E. Roberts . Time-resolved Microspectrofluorimetry and Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging of Hypericin in Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells. Photochemistry and Photobiology, 81 (2005) 537-540.

Broniec A, Pawlak A, Sarna T, Wielgus A, Roberts JE, Land EJ, Truscott TG, Edge R, Navaratnam S. Spectroscopic properties and reactivity of free radical forms of A2E. Free Radic Biol Med. 38 (2005) 1037-1046.

Roberts JE, Kukielczak BM, Chignell CF, Sik BH, Hu DN, Principato MA. Simulated microgravity induced damage in human retinal pigment epithelial cells. Mol Vis. 12 (2006) 633-638.

Zielonka J, Sarna T, Roberts JE, Wishart JF, Kalyanaraman B. Pulse radiolysis and steady-state analyses of the reaction between hydroethidine and superoxide and other oxidants. Arch Biochem Biophys. (2006) 456(1):39-47

Wielgus AR, Chignell CF, Miller DS, Van Houten B, Meyer J, Hu DN, Roberts JE. Phototoxicity in Human Retinal Epithelial Cells Promoted by Hypericin, a Component of St. John's Wort. Photochem Photobiol. (2007) 83(3):706-13.

Jennifer Veitch, Gerrit Van dan Beld, George Brainard and Joan E. Roberts Publication CIE 158:2004 [Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage ]Ocular Lighting Effects on Human Physiology and Behaviour Publication CIE 158:2004 ISBN 3 901 906 28 2

Roberts, J.E. "The Effects of Visible and Near Infrared Light in Humans". In: Biophysical and Physiological Effects of Solar Radiation on Human Skin, edited by Paolo U. Giacomoni, Chapter 8, pp 209-223. Royal Society of Chemistry Publishing , Cambridge, UK (2007) ISBN : 978-0-85404-289-0

Roberts, Joan E. "Drug Induced Ocular Phototoxicity” In: Marzulli and Maibach's Dermatotoxicology, 7th Edition, edited by H. Zhai, K-P Wilhelm, and H. Maibach, Chapter 28, pp 269-278. Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, Florida, (2008) ISBN - 13:978-0-8493-9773-8

Wiechmann AF, Chignell CF, Roberts JE. "Influence of dietary melatonin on photoreceptor survival in the rat retina: An ocular toxicity study" Exp Eye Res. 2008 Feb;86(2):241-50.

Phototoxicity and cytotoxicity of fullerol in human lens epithelial cells. Roberts JE, Wielgus AR, Boyes WK, Andley U, Chignell CF. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 2008 Apr 1;228(1):49-58.