Leading Cancer Research Scientist to speak at NUI Galway

Monday, 6 September 2004

A renowned expert in cancer research will give the inaugural Annual Cancer Research Lecture in NUI Galway later this month. Professor Thanos Halazonetis's talk, "DNA Damage Checkpoints and Cancer" will take place at 1.00pm on Friday, 17 September 2004 in the McMunn Theatre. The lecture is being hosted by the University's Department of Biochemistry and supported by the Bank of Ireland, University Branch.

Professor Thanos Halazonetis graduated from the Dental School in Athens and did a PhD degree in Genetics at Harvard University. He currently holds a research position at the Wistar Institute and a Professorship in the Department of Pathology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Professor Halazonetis is researching how normal cells respond when the genetic material is damaged and how defects in these responses result in cancer. A particular focus is the DNA Damage Checkpoint Pathway, which co-ordinates a range of cellular responses to DNA damage, ensuring efficient repair and therefore suppression of tumour formation. In particular, Professor Halazonetis has been studying various DNA damage response markers in a spectrum of lung lesions ranging from hyperplasia to invasive carcinoma. His findings indicate that even in its earliest stages, cancer is associated with activation of the DNA Damage Checkpoint Pathway.

Professor Halazonetis is coming to NUI Galway because of similar research to his being carried out by Professor Noel Lowndes and his team in the University's Genome Stability Laboratory. "We are privileged that Professor Halazonetis is coming to share his knowledge with us," said Professor Lowndes, whose research team is currently working on related genes in model systems more amenable to genetic studies. "We believe that the involvement of the DNA damage checkpoint Pathway in cancer requires that we understand this pathway at the molecular level. In fact, great strides have been made in recent years in research in this area and, with the recent establishment of the Genome Stability Cluster, NUI Galway is now contributing to the exciting progress being made. This understanding will lead to advances in the treatment of one of the most serious diseases of our time".

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