CCBTP mentor, Aziz Sancar, a biochemist who has exquisitely mapped part of the DNA repair system in cancer cells, has been honored this year with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden announced Oct. 7.
Sancar, who has been a professor at UNC since 1982, earned the award for his work on mapping the cellular mechanisms that underlie DNA repair, which occurs every single minute of the day due to outside forces, such as ultraviolet radiation and other environmental factors. In particular, Sancar mapped nucleotide excision repair, which is vital to UV damage to DNA. When this repair system is defective, people exposed to sunlight develop skin cancer.
Sancar’s work dates back to 1974, when he was a graduate student at the University of Texas. The most recent work was accomplished earlier this year when his team created a DNA repair map of the entire human genome.
Sancar shares this award with two others: Tomas Lindahl of the Francis Crick Institute and Clare Hall Laboratory in Great Britain, and Paul Modrich of Duke University School of Medicine and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
In the past decade Sancar has mentored CCBTP trainees Stephanie Hutsell, and Erin Heenan, and continues to be actively involved with the training program.
The National Institutes of Health has supported Dr. Sancar since 1982 with $24,353,827 in research dollars. Almost all of the NIH funding is from the National Institute for General Medical Sciences.