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Name dropping: Rebeca Gerschman, a pioneer in the study of ROS* and free radical toxicity

How come Jonatan Funtowicz is so interested in ROS*? Maybe by osmosis? He does not remember it but he was a quasi godson of a pioneer of the ROS* toxicity field, Dr Rebeca Gerschman,

Dr Gerschman (1903-1986) was an Argentinian scientist  who, together with Daniel Gilbert, discovered oxygen toxicity, a problem that later developed on a whole new field of research, that of reactive oxygen species and aging.  She helped me when I was a budding scientist doing research with Rodolfo Sanchez on the effect of oxygen on seed germination


At the time  (after Second World War II), oxygen was believed to be benign and only benign, but Dr. Gerschman found the commonality between the deleterious effect of oxygen and that of X-rays.  Her work led to her nomination to a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine but she died before she could be considered (the Nobel Prize is only awarded to the living).

The Free Radical Theory of Ageing, was first proposed by Denham Harman in the mid-1950’s based largely on work conducted by Rebeca Gerschman and Daniel Gilbert. At its core, the Free Radical Theory of Ageing posits that free radical and related oxidants, from the environment and internal metabolism, cause damage to cellular constituents that, over time, result in an accumulation of structural and functional problems.

Reactive oxygen species and their effect on skin aging are central to our work at Skin Actives, and we use many low and high molecular weight antioxidants to disarm dangerous ROS*. It is nice to know that the research of Dr Gerschman is applied to benefit our customers.


Gerschman R., Gilbert D., Nye S., Dwyer P. y Fenn W. (1954) Oxygen poisoning and X-irradiation: a mechanism in common. Science 119, 623-626 (doi: DOI: 10.1126/science.119.3097.623)