Link: University of Iowa

Dr. Sarah Hengel Awarded Grant

Sarah Hengel, Ph.D. (PhD mentor: Maria Spies), was awarded a two year Diversity Supplement as part of NIH grant R01ES024872 entitled “Replication Fork Dynamics and Repair by RAD51 paralogues after DNA Alkylation”.  Dr. Hengel, a recent graduate at the University of Iowa is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine studying DNA repair and cancer with Dr. Kara Bernstein.  By determining what environmental factors contribute to who may develop cancer, Dr. Hengel aims to prevent cancer for people harboring mutations in the DNA repair genes called the RAD51 paralogues. Individuals with mutations in RAD51 paralogues are predisposed to breast and ovarian cancers.  However it remains unknown how exposure to environmental toxicants contribute to cancer development in these individuals. DNA alkylating agents are ubiquitous in our environment and can damage DNA. The RAD51 paralogues are important to repair the DNA damage caused by DNA alkylation.  Dr. Hengel’s project is to biochemically define and characterize how the RAD51 paralogues recognize damaged DNA and promote its repair to prevent cancer.

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