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Repairing DNA: A researcher strives to understand the root of DNA damage

Welcome to Biomed Bites, a weekly feature that introduces readers to some of Stanford's most innovative researchers.

How's your DNA? Is it in tip-top shape, a lovely helix of perfectly matched pairs? Or does it look like something the cat brought in, a chemical log-jam with gaps and mismatches? Granted, I'm taking a bit of liberty — no one is really going to inspect your genome, but someday, discoveries made by Karlene Cimprich, PhD, professor of chemical and systems biology, might make it possible to spot those flaws — and fix them — years before they lead to cancer or neurodegeneration.

Cimprich didn't intend to become a doctor of DNA. As a graduate student at Harvard, she discovered a molecule that helps cells detect and repair DNA damage, and she was hooked.

"What I've found in the last 10 to 15 years is that our understanding of that molecule has been translated into research in companies that are now targeting that molecule and other proteins with which it interacts for treatment for cancer," Cimprich says in the video above.

Learn more about Stanford Medicine’s Biomedical Innovation Initiative and about other faculty leaders who are driving biomedical innovation here.

Previously: Clues about kidney disease from an unexpected direction, Spotting broken DNA — in the DNA fix-it shop and Door dings and DNA — connecting behavior and the environment to your health

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