Damon Runyon Researchers

Meet Our Scientists
Justin L. Sparks, PhD

Dr. Sparks is investigating the cellular machinery that carries out DNA replication and how this process can go awry in cancer cells. Specifically, he is focusing on the eukaryotic replisome, which is a complex of enzymes that helps cellular DNA replicate during cell division. He has found that the replisome can overcome bulky obstacles on a DNA strand, such as DNA-protein cross-links (DPCs), during replication to maintain genome integrity. DPCs, generated from cellular metabolites and environmental mutagens, are likely important for cancer etiology. Faulty DNA replication and repair are hallmarks of all cancers. Thus, his research has the potential to uncover new drug targets that can prevent genome instability and the evolution of cancers leading to therapeutic resistance.

Project title: "Replicative helicase bypass of bulky DNA lesions"
Institution: Harvard Medical School
Award Program: Dale Frey Scientist
Cancer Type: All Cancers
Research Area: Biochemistry