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DNA Repair Videoconference Seminar Series begins

By Jeff Stumpf
September 2010

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Researchers at NIEHS will again participate in the popular NIH DNA Repair Videoconference Seminar Series beginning Sept. 7. Broadcast live on the second Tuesday of each month, between September and June, at 12:30 p.m., the videoconference links 14 sites at academic and government institutions throughout the country.

At NIEHS, the lectures are shown in the Rall building B200 conference room, where attendees can ask questions and make comments via a teleconference connection. The webcasts are archived by NIH, and currently, more than 140 past lectures, many including lecture slides, are available online ( Exit NIEHS.

DNA repair is a major research interest in several groups in the Institute's laboratories of Molecular Genetics, Structural Biology, and Molecular Carcinogenesis. Their insights into DNA repair have advanced research in the genetic and environmental causes of human diseases.

The seminar series features 45-minute lectures, originating from one of several locations by prominent scientists in the repair field. Each year, one of the spring seminars highlights three short presentations by young investigators. The final seminar of the year provides historical perspectives of DNA repair research by showcasing excerpts from the past 15 years of DNA repair videoconferences.

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Kenneth Kraemer, M.D. ( Exit NIEHS, senior investigator in the Dermatology Branch at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), co-hosts the videoconference program. "It's a nice way of communicating and seeing one another without the expense of traveling," Kraemer said.

The series is one of the ways that the more than 1500 members of the NIH DNA Repair Interest Group ( Exit NIEHS collaborate and share their findings with each other. The group also maintains a listserv ( Exit NIEHS that interested scientists can join, and it sponsors several conferences and events each year.

History of the DNA repair videoconference

The interest group began 25 years ago as a series of meetings between Kraemer and his former NCI colleague Vilhelm Bohr, M.D., Ph.D. ( Exit NIEHS, who is now chief of the Section on DNA Repair at the National Institute on Aging. When Bohr moved to his current position at the NIA facility in Baltimore in 1995, continuing the collaboration became cumbersome. "We tried commuting back and forth, but that didn't work very well," said Kraemer.

Videoconferencing began 15 years ago and has blossomed into today's large national network. The topics of the lectures range from clinical observations of diseases related to DNA repair to molecular studies of the proteins involved.

Several highlighted lectures in this series include the description of mutations that lead to Xeroderma Pigmentosa and the cloning of the ATM protein kinase that is mutated in patients with Ataxia Telangiectasia.

(Jeffrey Stumpf, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in the NIEHS Laboratory of Molecular Genetics Mitochondrial DNA Replication Group.)

DNA repair videoconference seminars at NIEHS

Because of the great depth of research at NIEHS on DNA repair, the Institute's scientists have played an important role in the lecture series for many years.

In September 2009, Dmitry Gordenin, Ph.D., a staff scientist in the Chromosome Stability Group, gave a talk ( Exit NIEHS on his latest study on the nonrandom cluster of mutations that arise after exposure of ultraviolet light. Gordenin showed that mutation clusters occur around regions that were single-stranded during irradiation.

In May, Scott Lujan, Ph.D., a postdoctoral IRTA trainee in the Replication Fidelity Group, participated in one of the young investigator presentations. Lujan presented evidence supporting the hypothesis that two different DNA polymerases replicate leading and lagging strands throughout the entire genome.

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