DNA damage takes the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015

One of the areas of expertise in Oxford is radiation biology - the impact of radiation on living cells. The damage radiation does to cells is brought about by the damage caused to DNA. Scientists in the Department of Oncology and the CRUK/MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology in Oxford, are focusing their work on understanding how cells repair that damage.

The importance of DNA damage repair was underscored by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences this week when it awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015 to three scientists who have made critical advances in our understanding of the way cells detect and repair damage to DNA.

The recipients, Tomas Lindahl of the Francis Crick Institute and Clare Hall Laboratory, UK; Paul Modrich of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Duke University School of Medicine, USA; and Aziz Sancar of the University of North Carolina, USA, were awarded the prize for their “Mechanistic studies of DNA repair”.

A number of DNA damage and repair researchers in the Department of Oncology have worked at the Clare Hall Laboratory, including Professor Grigory Dianov of the CRUK/MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology whose work with Lindahl on the reconstitution of the DNA base excision-repair pathway was cited in the Committee’s justification of the winning trio.

Image courtesy of Tom Ellenberger, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Dave Gohara, Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
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