Dr. Alan Diamond worked on transfer RNA (tRNA) as an undergraduate at Brooklyn College, leading to his continuance of obtaining a Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Stony Brook University. Although he was not aware of it at the time, his thesis was spent characterizing the mammalian tRNA that served as the platform for the synthesis of the selenium-containing protein selenocysteine, which was subsequently incorporated in growing peptides in response to a specially designated UGA €œstop codons€. He learned about molecular cloning and cancer biology during his post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School before taking his first faculty position in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University Chicago. There, Dr. Diamond returned to work on selenoprotein synthesis and function, which evolved into the role those selenoproteins play in cancer etiology. This focus continued after he moved to the University of Illinois, first in the Department of Human Nutrition, and subsequently to his current home in the Department of Pathology. He currently studies anti-oxidant proteins implicated in cancer risk and outcome by human epidemiological data, with an emphasis on those proteins that contain selenium in the form of selenocysteine. By manipulating these proteins in cultured cells and examining their levels and subcellular location in human tissues, Dr. Diamond researches ways to learn about the mechanisms behind their effects on healthy and cancerous cells.
His research is focused on anti-oxidant proteins/ cancer etiology, functions of selenium-containing proteins and the impact of naturally occurring genetic variations on health.