August 12, 2015
Rui Yu, PhD, the Leon and Bertha Golberg Postdoctoral Fellow at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been awarded a two-year, $160,000 grant from the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund. Yu’s study, “Identifying the nature of the endogenous aldehydes-induced DNA damage that Fanconi anemia DNA repair pathways counteract,” is being conducted in the laboratory of James Swenberg, DVM, PhD, Kenan Distinguished Professor of environmental sciences and engineering at the Gillings School.
Fanconi anemia is an inherited disease that can lead to bone marrow failure and cancer.
“We intend with this project to identify and promote our understanding of the specific type(s) of endogenous aldehyde-induced DNA damage that the intact Fanconi anemia DNA repair pathways counteract,” Yu said. “Such results will promote our understanding of the mechanism of bone marrow failure and leukemia caused by DNA damage and will lead to future identification of novel therapies and new drugs for managing these diseases.”
Yu earned a Bachelor of Science in pharmaceutics in 2006 from China Pharmaceutical University in Nanjing and a doctorate in pharmaceutical chemistry and pharmacognosy at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Pharmacy in 2012. He joined Swenberg’s lab that year as a postdoctoral research fellow.
Until recently, Swenberg served for 18 years as director of the UNC Curriculum in Toxicology. Over the past 20 years, he has directed a large research program on biomarkers of DNA damage, witih the aim to measure identical endogenous biomarkers and differentiate them from DNA adducts and DNA protein cross-links induced by stable isotope exposures. A DNA adduct is a piece of DNA bonded to a cancer-causing chemical, a process that could be the start of a cancerous cell.
“It’s a real treat for Rui to have received this grant,” Swenberg said. “He and colleague Dr. Yonquan Lai have developed the hallmark methods that allowed the proposed biomarkers research to be possible.”
The Fanconi Anemia Research Fund was established in 1989 by Lynn and Dave Frohnmayer to find effective treatment and a cure for Fanconi anemia and to provide education and support services to affected families.