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Welcome to the Dynan Lab

William S. DynanThe goal of the Dynan laboratory is to obtain a better understanding of the fundamental biological process of DNA double-strand break repair and to use this knowledge to manipulate the DNA repair machinery for therapeutic benefit.  Double-strand break repair systems are essential in humans, where they help maintain genome stability and protect against damage induced by exposure to environmental hazards such as radiation. 

The laboratory is best known for its use of biochemical approaches to study repair activity. The default mechanism for double-strand break repair in humans is a process called nonhomologous end joining.  The laboratory has developed a way to reconstitute this process using purified enzymes and is using this system to study repair mechanisms.   They have also begun to use mouse models to understand the function of the same repair proteins in the context of the whole organism. 

In addition to studies of DNA repair, the laboratory also seeks to understand the biological effects of radiation more broadly, including the effects of energetic heavy ions, which occur naturally in the space environment and may be useful in cancer therapy.

Work on radiation and DNA repair has  a number of translational applications. Selective inhibition of DNA repair in tumor cells provides a strategy to increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy, while limiting normal tissue damage. In addition, the induction of precisely targeted DNA double-strand breaks has applications for correction for single gene disorders, including sickle cell disease. 

Dr. Dynan is a member of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. He is also an Eminent Scholar of the Georgia Research Alliance. Please visit the GRA site for more information on this organization's important work. View Dr. Dynan's NIH Biographical Sketch here.