Midwest DNA Repair Symposium
Sankar Mitra, PhD
Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Sealy Center for Molecular Medicine
UTMB, Galveston, Texas
Sankar Mitra, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Dept. of Radiation Oncology and a Senior Scientist in the Sealy Center for Molecular Medicine, UTMB, Galveston, Texas. He is also a Full Member of The Texas Methodist Hospital Research Institute, Houston Texas. Prior to this he spent many years as a Senior Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tenn.
Dr. Mitra’s career and scientific contributions span almost 50 years. His research over the last three decades has primarily focused on alkylation and oxidative DNA damage, mechanisms of their repair and their involvement in carcinogenesis.
He has numerous scientific awards from throughout the world. The key scientific discoveries of his laboratory include the discovery of Ada and the subsequent cloning and characterization of the human MGMT gene, the discovery of APE1 activation by oxidative stress, the discovery of a new family of oxidized base-specific human repair enzymes (NEIL1 and NEIL2) and novel repair pathways involving them, identification and characterization of participants in short-patch and long-patch base excision repair in mitochondria, discovery of dual roles of Fe/Cu in both inducing DNA damage and inhibiting its repair, discovery of roles of hnRNPs in DNA repair and discovery of site-specific oxidative base damage and strand breaks induced as a consequence of oxidative demethylation of histones and methylation of CpG islands in transcription regulatory sequences.
Dr. Mitra has published over 250 papers, has served extensively for funding agencies and has organized numerous national and international conferences and serves on numerous editorial boards.
Richard Fishel, PhD
Professor of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Genetics
Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
Richard Fishel was awarded a BS in Biology with Honors in 1976 and a PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry in 1980 from the University of California, Irvine, where he studied the biophysics of Holiday Junction branch migration with Dr. Robert Warner. Dr. Fishel then matriculated as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Richard Kolodner from 1980-1984 in the Department of Biological Chemistry at Harvard Medical School, where he studied the genetics and biochemistry of plasmid recombination and mismatch repair in E.coli.
In 1984, Dr. Fishel became an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and participated in the Molecular Medicine Program that ultimately became the blueprint for bench-to-bedside translational medicine. Dr. Fishel’s move to Molecular Medicine also correlated with his switch to the human cells as a model to study recombination and mismatch repair. In 1986, Dr. Fishel moved to the National Cancer Institute, where he was the first to identify a human non-homologous recombination biochemical activity. It was during these studies that Dr. Fishel appreciated that nearly all of the human recombination and repair genes he isolated had conserved homologs in bacteria and yeast.
Following his move to the Markey Center for Molecular Genetics at the University of Vermont in 1991, Dr. Fishel began a new collaboration Dr. Richard Kolodner to isolate the human homologs of several DNA repair genes, including the mismatch repair genes based on homologies with the yeast counterparts. In 1993, Drs. Fishel and Kolodner published a seminal paper that connected the human mismatch repair gene hMSH2 with Lynch syndrome or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (LS/HNPCC), arguably the most common cancer predisposition syndrome in the human population. In 1994 with Dr. Michael Liskay, Drs. Fishel and Kolodner identified the hMLH1 gene as a second genetic cause of LS/HNPCC. The discovery of these two genes and their connection to LS/HNPCC has been credited with solidifying the idea of Mutators as a driver of cancer and opening genomic instability as a field in tumorigenesis.
Dr. Fishel moved to the Kimmel Cancer Center – Philadelphia in 1995 and the Ohio State University Medical Center in 2005, where he is currently a Professor in the Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics Department as well as the Physics Department in the College of Arts and Sciences at the Ohio State University. He has a fundamental interest in the genetics and biophysics of human DNA repair. Dr. Fishel first proposed the Molecular Switch Model of mismatch repair that has gradually become accepted since it was conceived by his laboratory beginning in 1997. His most recent work has been to develop single molecule imagining technologies to probe the mechanisms of DNA repair.