Wright State to host 19th Annual Midwest DNA Repair Symposium

Wright State faculty members Mike Kemp, left, Yong-jie Xu and Michael Leffak are organizing the Midwest DNA Repair Symposium on May 13 and 14.

Wright State University will host the Annual Midwest DNA Repair Symposium for the first time on Saturday, May 13, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 14.

The symposium will be held in the Ghandi Auditorium in White Hall. More than 90 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty scientists from more than 20 universities around the United States are expected to attend.

Speakers at the 19th symposium include internationally known professors in their fields, including Tanya Paull, professor in molecular genetics and microbiology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Texas at Austin; and Sergei Mirkin, professor and biology chair at Tufts University.

Paull’s studies include biochemical activities of the MRN (Mrell/Rad50/Nbs1) complex of proteins, which are critical components in the repair of DNA double-strand breaks. Her research is focused on understanding the DNA damage response in eukaryotic cells with functions of the MRN complex.

Tanya Paull, professor in molecular genetics and microbiology at the University of Texas at Austin. (Kevin Wolf/AP Images)

Mirkin’s research is in the field of DNA structure and function, specifically in the mechanisms responsible for genomic instability of DNA repeats, which are known to cause more than 30 hereditary disorders in humans.

“Every cell in our body suffers more than 50,000 DNA damaging events every day,” said Michael Leffak, professor in Wright State’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and vice chair of research. “This amounts to an average of 1,000 breaks, gaps or chemical attacks on every chromosome. If not repaired correctly this damage results in mutations that can cause disease, including developmental abnormalities, metabolic disorders and cancers.”

The symposium includes oral and poster presentations about approaches to understanding DNA damage and repair, the roles of inheritance and environment in DNA damage, cellular mechanisms for the repair of DNA damage and molecular approaches to cancer chemotherapy, said Leffak.

Leffak said Wright State is honored to host the symposium as a defining event during the university’s 50th anniversary celebration.

“At a time when the credibility of science is under scrutiny, it is important that we encourage the pursuit of experimentation, objectivity and critical thinking with this meeting,” he said.

Sergei Mirkin, professor and biology chair at Tufts University.

Registration for the conference is $100 per person.

For more information and to register visit wright.edu/event/midwest-dna-repair-symposium.

The symposium received support from Margaret Dunn, dean of the Boonshoft School of Medicine; Douglas Leaman, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics; Robert Fyffe, dean of the Graduate School and vice president for research; and Madhavi Kadakia, chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The event is also supported by NERx Biosciences, Thermo-Fisher Scientific and New England Biolabs.

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