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George Gassner, an Associate Professor of Biochemistry at San Francisco State University since 2000, poses for a portrait at his lab in Thornton Hall on Friday, November 14, 2008.   The Gassner lab is researching the metabolism of styrene, a small molecule, which is synthesized on the megaton-scale by the chemical industry for use in the synthesis of plastic and rubber materials.  Styrene metabolism results in an array of toxic compounds including styrene oxide, a potent carcinogen.  Gassner and his students have focused their attention on the structures and mechanisms of the group of enzymes directly responsible for the biochemical detoxification of styrene and are interested in identifying conditions that trigger malfunctions in the styrene detoxification pathway and thus increase the risk of irreversible cell damage and the onset of cancer.  (Christopher McGuire)