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Dr. Valentin Boerner Awarded a Four-Year, $1.9276M Grant for Genome Research

Dr. Valentin Boerner Awarded a Four-Year, $1.9276M Grant for Genome ResearchCSU professor will lead collaborative research with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center through grant from the National Institute of Health

Cleveland, Ohio (May 24, 2022)— Valentin Boerner, Ph.D., professor in the Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences department and member of the Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease (GRHD) at Cleveland State University, has been awarded a four-year Focused Technology Development R01 grant by the National Institute of Health (NIH).

The grant will provide just over $1,927,600 to map interactions between parental chromosomes, facilitating future scientific breakthroughs that will potentially benefit cancer and fertility patients.

Dr. Boerner’s lab will track how highly-similar chromosome segments—called “homologous DNA”—can rapidly find their match among millions of DNA segments within the same cell nucleus—a process that is “presently mysterious,” said Dr. Boerner.

“Homologous DNA interactions are critical for repair of chromosome breaks and gene expression with key roles in the causation of cancer and infertility,” Dr. Boerner said. “Mapping homologous DNA interactions will also accelerate genome engineering in the emerging field of synthetic biology.”

The project will be carried out in collaboration with Hisashi Tanaka, MD, Ph.D., a cancer scientist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Tanaka’s research on genome instability aims to identify deficiencies in DNA replication and repair functions, which leads to the improved management of cancer in patients.

“From its inception in 2008, GRHD has been very fortunate to attract, recruit and retain great scientists, who have brought a lot of recognition and acclaim to GRHD and helped CSU to climb in national rankings as a research institution,” said Anton A. Komar, Ph.D., professor and director of GRHD. 

“The new NIH award to Dr. Boerner will further contribute to training new generations of students and post-doctoral scientists—attracting national and international attention to biomedical research at CSU.”

Dr. Boerner’s research at CSU to date has focused on the functional relationship between chromosome organization on the microscopic level and DNA transitions on the molecular level. Changes in chromosome structure occur in parallel with DNA events at all stages of the cell cycle, and coordination between these processes plays a critical role in transmission of an intact genome.

Defects in genome stability are associated with cancer, aging and birth defects such as Down syndrome.


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