We design and develop approaches to modulate how the body responds to ubiquitous environmental cues to modify the course of serious diseases. Interactions with environmental stimuli, such as light, gravity, the earth’s magnetic field, food, microbes, and our atmosphere are for all practical purposes inescapable. By providing the context for genetic variation, such cues have dictated evolution. The body’s composition of small molecules, gene expression patterns and biochemical, physiological, and morphological changes can be viewed as a culmination of its adaptation to long-term universal environmental influences. Common diseases such as cancer, metabolic, cardiovascular, neurological and degenerative disorders, and aging might be associated with environmental pressures, both preventable and inescapable, rather than the result of a single genetic event.


Thus, we aim to quantify the body’s precise response to select environmental stimuli, use this information to define who we are as a species and as individuals, and then modulate these interactions to redefine the individual and change the course of disease. We focus on unavoidable environment-organism interactions that have innately shaped organisms through evolution.





  1. Washington, I, Houk, K.N. Transition States and Origins of Stereoselectivity of Epoxidations by Oxaziridinium Salts. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 122:2948-2949, 2000.
  2. Armstrong, A., Washington, I., Houk, K.N. Transition State Stereoelectronics in Alkene Epoxidations by Fluorinated Dioxiranes. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 122:6297-6298, 2000.
  3. Gree, D., Vallerie, L., Gree, R., Toupet, L., Washington, I., Pelicier, JP., Villacampa, M., Perez, J.M., Houk, K.N. Conformations of Allylic Fluorides and Stereoselectivities of Their Diels-Alder Cycloadditions. J. Org. Chem., 66:2374-2381, 2001.
  4. Washington, I., Houk, K.N. CH—O hydrogen bonding influences pie–facial stereoselective epoxidations.  Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 40:4485-4488, 2001.
  5. Washington, I., Houk, K.N. Epoxidations by Peracid Anions in Water: Ambiphilic Oxenoid Reactivity and Stereoselectivity. Org. Lett., 4:2661-2664,2002.
  6. Washington, I., Houk, K.N., Armstrong, A. Strategies for the Design of Organic Aziridination Reagents and Catalysts: Transition Structures for Alkene Aziridinations by NH Transfer. J. Org. Chem., 68:6497-6501, 2003.
  7. Poon, T., Turro, N.J., Chapman, J., Lakshminarasimhan, P., Lei, X., Jockusch, S., Franz, R., Washington, I., Adam, W., Bosio, S.G. Stereochemical Features of the Physical and Chemical Interactions of Singlet Oxygen With Enecarbamates. Org. Lett., 5:4951-4953, 2003.
  8. Prakesch, M., Gree, D., Gree, R., Carter, J., Washington, I., Houk, K.N. Stereoselectivity of Nitrile Oxide Cycloadditions to Chiral Allylic Fluorides: Experiment and Theory. Chem. Eur. J., 9:5664-5672, 2003.
  9. Washington, I., Brooks, C., Turro, N.J., Nakanishi, K. Porphyrins As Photosensitizers To Enhance Night Vision. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 126:9892-9893, 2004.
  10. Poon, T., Sivaguru, J., Franz, R., Jockusch, S., Martinez, C., Washington, I., Adam, W., Inoue, Y., Turro, N.J. Temperature and Solvent Control of the Stereoselectivity in the Reactions of Singlet Oxygen with Oxazolidinone-Substituted Enecarbamates. J. Am. Chem. Soc.,126:10498-10499, 2004.
  11. Washington, I., Jockusch, S., Itagaki, Y., Turro, N.J., Nakanishi, K. Superoxidation of Bisretinoids. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.,117: 7259-7262, 2005.
  12. Washington, I., Turro, N.J., Nakanishi, K. Superoxidation of Retinoic Acid. Photchemistry and Photobiology, 82:1394–1397, 2006.
  13. Isayama, T., Alexeev, D., Clint, M., Washington, I., Nakanishi, K., Turro, N.J. An Accessory Chromophore in Red Vision. Nature, 443:649, 2006.
  14. Lebedeva, I.V., Washington, I., Sarkar, D., Clark, J.A., Fine, R.L., Dent, P., Curiel, D.T., Turro, N.J., Fisher, P.B. Strategy for Reversing Resistance to a Single Anti-Cancer Agent in Human Prostate and Pancreatic Carcinomas. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A.,104:3484-3489, 2007.
  15. Washington, I., Zhou, J., Jockusch, S., Turro, N.J., Nakanishi,K., Sparrow, J.R. Chlorophyll Derivatives as Visual Pigments for Super Vision in the Red. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci., 6:775-779, 2007.
  16. Qu, J., Kaufman, Y., Washington, I. Coenzyme Q10 in the Human Retina. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci., 50:1814-1818, 2009.
  17. Ma, L., Kaufman, Y., Zhang, J., Washington, I. C20-D3-vitamin A slows lipofuscin accumulation and electrophysiological retinal degeneration in a mouse model of Stargardt’s disease. J. Biol. Chem., 286(10):7966-7974.
  18. Kaufman, Y., Ma, L., Washington, I. Deuterium enrichment of vitamin A at the C20 position slows the formation of detrimental vitamin a dimers in wild-type rodents. J. Biol. Chem., 286(10):7958-7965, 2011.
  19. Qu, J., Ma, L., Washington, I.  Retinal coenzyme Q in the bovine eye. Biofactors, 37(5):393-398, 2011.
  20. Qu, J., Ma, L., Zhang, J., Jockusch, S., Washington, I. Dietary chlorophyll metabolites catalyze the photo reduction of plasma ubiquinone, Photochemistry and Photobiology, 89(2):310 – 303, 2013.
  21. Mihai, D., Hongfeng, J., Blaner, W., Romanov, A., Washington, I. The retina rapidly incorporates ingested C20-D3-vitamin A in a swine model, Molecular Vision, 19:1677-1683, 2013.
  22. Xu, C., Zhang, J., Mihai, D., Washington, I. Light-harvesting chlorophyll pigments enable mammalian mitochondria to capture photonic energy and produce ATP, J. Cell Sci. doi:10.1242/jcs.134262, 2013.
  23. Black, CK., Mihai, DM., Washington, I. The Photosynthetic Eukaryote Nannochloris eukaryotum as an Intracellular Machine To Control and Expand Functionality of Human Cells, Nano Letters, 2014.
  24. Mihai, M. D., Washington, I., Vitamin A dimers trigger the protracted death of retinal pigment epithelium cells, Cell Death and Disease, 2014, in press.

Dr. Washington was born in NYC and is an Assistant Professor at Columbia Medical Center in the Department of Ophthalmology. He received a BA in Chemistry from Bard College and a PhD in Computational Chemistry under Ken Houk from University of California Los Angeles. Dr. Washington was postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University where he worked in the fields of Natural Products and Photochemistry jointly under the mentorship of Koji Nakanishi and Nick Turro. Dr. Washington is a co-founder of Alkeus pharmaceuticals a specialty ophthalmology pharmaceutical company developed from technology originating in his lab.

A2E Large scale
Picture 2
A2E Large scale
b618104j-250-for-tridion_tcm18-88561 Mito_Proposed_cover WSJ A2E Large scale D3VItaminAStory MitochondriaText Cover2 Cover1 Blood_light chemistry_vile THE REFRACTOR chemistry-nyc Picture 2 A2E Large scale