Dr. Francisco Schopfer

Francisco J. Schopfer, PhD, MBA

E1343 BST
200 Lothrop St
Pittsburgh PA 15123

Liver-Related Work

Research: My research focuses on the formation, signaling and metabolic/anti-inflammatory/antifibrotic effects of bioactive fatty acids. The bioactive lipids we investigate are mainly nitrated fatty acids, furan fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids.

Nitrated fatty acids ( NO2-FA) are generated endogenously through non-enzymatic reactions of secondary products of nitrite and nitric oxide and are readily detected in human plasma and urine. Nitrated fatty acids are a group of signaling molecules that originate from the reactions of nitrite and nitric oxide-derived oxidants with unsaturated fatty acids. These species are continuously formed during gastric digestion, are absorbed and systemically distributed through chylomicrons. In addition, they are formed at sites of inflammation and during ischemia-reperfusion events. NO2-FAs are potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant cell signaling mediators and exert protective effects in numerous pre-clinical disease states, including metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular, pulmonary, and renal fibrosis. Chronic unresolved inflammation is a common key feature underlying most fibrotic disorders. Two pathways that converge on inflammation and oxidative stress are nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB). NO2-FAs are pleiotropic signaling modulators that target both of these pathways providing a therapeutic strategy directed towards an integrated decrease in inflammation. In addition, NO2-FA inhibit STING, a pathway involved in exacerbated inflammatory responses in autoimmune diseases.

Furan fatty acids and omega-3: The most consistent effect of omega-3 fatty acids across clinical trials is their ability to reduce circulating triglycerides. We have reported the presence of furan fatty acid in fish oil. The focus of our lab in this area is on understanding the mechanism by which omega-3 and furan fatty acids regulate liver metabolic function. In particular, we study their effects on the synthesis of triglycerides and their impact on metabolic routes.

We use a multidisciplinary approach that involves organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, biochemistry, and physiology.

Selected Publications:
View Dr. Schopfer’s publications on PubMed

Collaborations with other liver clinicians and researchers
Michael Jurczak – Metabolic aspects of furan fatty acid actions

Organic chemistry
Targeted and untargeted small molecule mass spectrometry (LC and GC-MS)


Associate Professor and Vice Chair for Biotechnology Department