Damon Runyon Researchers

Meet Our Scientists
Jens C. Schmidt, PhD

The telomerase enzyme adds repetitive DNA sequences to the ends of human chromosomes, assuring genome integrity and providing unlimited proliferative potential to continuously dividing cells. Importantly, 90% of all cancers require telomerase activity for their survival. Mutations that activate the expression of telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), the major protein subunit of telomerase, are the most frequent mutations in a number cancers and are strongly correlated with poor clinical outcomes for patients carrying them. Telomerase is therefore an attractive target to potentially treat a wide range of aggressive cancers. Dr. Schmidt has developed techniques to study telomerase trafficking in vivo, as well as single-molecule assays to analyze telomerase catalysis and its modulation in vitro. He is able to visualize enzymatic action of telomerase in real-time at nucleotide resolution. He aims to understand the enzymatic mechanism of telomerase catalysis to identify potential weaknesses that can be targeted to inhibit telomerase action in cancer cells.

Project title: "Single-molecule analysis of telomerase recruitment to telomeres"
Institution: Michigan State University
Award Program: Dale Frey Scientist
Cancer Type: All Cancers
Research Area: Biochemistry