I am a molecular biologist interested in the role of genomic instability in cancer. Genomic instability is an early step in cancer that promotes tumor cell progression and resistance to therapy. My studies focus on the relationship between DNA repair and telomere loss, and the role of telomere loss in the extensive chromosome instability in cancer cells. Based on our earlier work, I have now developed a high-throughput assay that can detect small molecule inhibitors that target DNA double-strand break repair, telomere loss and chromosome instability, with the goal of identifying new cancer therapies.
My earlier work was the first to demonstrate the importance of cell cycle regulation in cell survival in response to DNA damage (Nature, 1980), the ability of immortal human cells to maintain telomeres through a telomerase-independent mechanism (EMBO J, 1994), the ability of mammalian cells to repair broken chromosomes through the addition of a new telomere (PNAS, 1999), and the role of telomere loss in chromosome instability in human cancer due to the sensitivity of telomeric regioins to DNA double-strand breaks (Murnane, Reviewed in Cancer Res, 2010).