RESEARCH PROGRAM AND STUDENT PROJECTS:
I am interested in how cells maintain genomic integrity during the process of cell division. This is a particularly relevant question as loss of genomic integrity is associated with human cancer. Specifically, I focuses on understanding the regulatory mechanisms that control the major DNA damage checkpoint pathway in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe . This pathway, which is conserved throughout eukaryotic evolution, halts the cell division cycle at the G2/M transition in the presence of DNA damage, presumably allowing cells time to repair their DNA. In the absence of a functional checkpoint, cells continue to divide in the presence of damaged DNA increasing the potential for mutation and genomic rearrangements. A second major area of research interest focuses on how cells accurately replicate their genetic material as this process is essential for the maintenance of genomic stability. In human cells, alterations in this process can lead to the inactivation of tumor suppressors or the activation of oncogenes culminating in tumor formation. Yeast serve as ideal model systems to study the processes involved in maintaining genomic stability because these processes are conserved in humans and the information gained from these studies can be applied to the understanding of human cancer development.