Denison professor awarded NIH grant to study DNA repair
Date of Event: May 12, 2010
Posted: May 12, 2010
Jeff Thompson, associate professor of biology at Denison University, has been awarded a $317,852 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with funds provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
Thompson’s research involves repairing cellular DNA that has been damaged by external factors, specifically ultra violet (UV) rays. He has been looking at histone proteins in cells. The proteins at first were believed to be a kind of “inert spool” for DNA. But recent work has revealed that these proteins not only function as a sort of holder for DNA, they actually have a lot to do with repairing damage that’s been done to the DNA.
Since coming to Denison in 2003, Thompson and many student members of his lab demonstrated the importance of a specific chemical “tag” that is added to histones in regulating DNA damage response. The grant proposal picks up the question raised by these prior studies: how does this “tag” actually work in repairing UV damage? The results of these studies have the long-term potential of revealing new clinical treatments for DNA damage disorders and cancer.
The NIH grant will fund the research as well as Summer Scholar Program research assistants at Denison for the next three years.
Thompson is excited about the grant and the opportunity to continue his research. “As a scientist, I’ve learned that most hypotheses will prove to be overly simplistic,” he says. “Research is being redirected constantly, with each experimental result opening new doors. But that’s a good thing. I know that in five years I’ll be looking at things I can’t even imagine now.”
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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