Our chromosomes are frequently subjected to insults that damage DNA, and if not rectified the resulting DNA lesions can cause genome mutations and human disease. Homologous recombination (HR) is an important mechanism for repairing DNA double-strand breaks, toxic DNA lesions that arise as a result of attack of DNA by reactive oxygen species or when DNA replication forks collapse. HR is vitally important for human health – cells or organisms lacking key regulators of HR such as the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are inviable, whereas hypomorphic mutations in these genes cause heightened susceptibility to a range of cancers. Despite the clear importance of HR for DNA repair and for human health, in general it is a poorly understood process and major questions of fundamental importance remain unanswered. Furthermore, although a range of proteins that are critical for HR besides the products of the BRCA genes are known, new and crucially important HR regulators are still being discovered – and yet more remain to be identified.
We are looking for bright, enthusiastic individuals to build upon work going on in the laboratory aimed at understanding the fundamental mechanisms operating at late stages of homologous recombination, which are crucial for preventing cancers. A range of lab techniques will be involved including CRISPR-mediated human genome editing, confocal microscopy, and analysis of chromosomal recombination and DNA repair in cells.