UAMS lands $1.47 million for DNA damage research

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 137 views 

A five-year, $1.47 million National Cancer Institute (NCI) grant has been awarded to researcher Justin Leung, Ph.D., at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to study DNA.

Leung’s project is a collaboration with Robert Eoff, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the UAMS College of Medicine. Both Leung and Eoff are researchers in the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

“Our work will potentially provide a fundamental understanding of the molecular mechanism of DNA damage regulation in our body and also reveal potential targets for cancer therapeutic development,” said Leung, an assistant professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Radiation Oncology.

Work on the NCI grant, “Mechanistic Characterization of Cell Cycle-Dependent DNA Repair,” focuses on dissecting the molecular mechanism on cell cycle-regulated DNA repair, specifically during early DNA replication. Leung and Eoff hope to identify a key group of proteins known as a histone-mark reader that work together to protect our genetic material from DNA damage.

The NCI grant comes on the heels of Leung receiving a four-year, $792,000 American Cancer Society Research Scholar grant to study DNA repair mechanisms. He will use that grant to investigate how signaling molecules on chromatin interact with proteins that repair broken DNA during replication.

In September 2020, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences awarded Leung a $1.9 million grant in support of the researcher’s roadmap project, “Deciphering the Chromatin-based DNA Damage Response Pathway.”

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