Our laboratory focuses on the role of sphingolipid signaling as a stress response. In this pathway, generation of the second messenger ceramide in response to diverse environmental and pharmacologic stresses (heat, ionizing radiation, ultraviolet light, chemotherapeutic agents, oxidative challenges, etc.) occurs either by degradation of sphingomyelin or by de novo synthesis. The quality and quantity of the ceramide response, in combination with other signals, determines whether adaptation or apoptosis ensues. This pathway is evolutionarily conserved and is obligate for the heat shock response in yeast.