DNA Metabolism and Repair

Program Co-Leaders: Tom Ellenberger, DVM, PhD, and Barry P. Sleckman, MD, PhD

Siteman Cancer Center's DNA Metabolism and Repair Program study pathways of DNA replication and genome maintenance, including responses to DNA damage like that caused by cancer therapies. These pathways are indispensible for maintaining a stable genetic blueprint. Conversely, the loss of normal pathway functions is a critical step for the genesis and maintenance of cellular transformation in most malignancies. Members of the DNA Metabolism and Repair Program are recognized leaders in many key areas, broadly encompassing:

  1. Enzymatic activities required for high-fidelity DNA replication or the repair of damaged DNA.
  2. Cellular signaling pathways and genetic programs initiated by damaged DNA, including cell-cycle checkpoints and programmed cell death.
  3. The mechanistic inter-relationships between normal DNA metabolism and repair pathways and other cellular transactions, such as transcription and translation.
  4. Telomere structural maintenance and telomerase function.
  5. The role of chromatin and chromatin modifications in DNA damage susceptibility and repair efficiency.
  6. The subversion of host DNA damage responses by invading intracellular pathogens.
  7. Cellular responses to and repair of DNA damage generated as intermediates in important physiologic processes.

Investigators in the DNA Metabolism and Repair Program are also integrally involved in research aimed at translating their studies to the clinic in several ways. This includes the identification of small molecule inhibitors of novel DNA damage response pathways that illuminate the causes of cancer or have potential uses in treatment.

Faculty members of the DNA Metabolism and Repair Program have established collaborations that utilize a number of Siteman cores, including the Bioinformatics, Murine Embryonic Stem Cell, Siteman Flow Cytometry, Multiplexed Gene Analysis and Proteomics cores as well as the Molecular Core Laboratory. The program sponsors a monthly research seminar series that hosts internationally recognized experts in the field to present their work and to promote collaborations with our faculty. In addition, the program is a co-sponsor of the Tolmach Symposium, a two-day symposium focused on basic cellular DNA damage response research that is held yearly at the Washington University School of Medicine. This symposium draws speakers from the Washington University research community and speakers who are leaders in the field of DNA damage responses from around the world.


DNA Metabolism and Repair Faculty 
Peter Burgers, PhD
Tom Ellenberger, DVM, PhD
Tim Lohman, PhD
Jeff Milbrandt, MD, PhD
Eugene Oltz, PhD
Buck Rogers, PhD
Barry Sleckman, MD, PhD
Sheila Stewart, PhD
Herbert Virgin, MD, PhD
Qin Yang, PhD
Zhongsheng You, PhD