Our lab studies two fundamental aspects of biology that have broad implications for human health. The first research direction examines how cells faithfully duplicate their genomes and repair DNA lesions arising from endogenous and exogenous sources. The second direction focuses on how a protein modifier called SUMO mediates signal transduction, directs the DNA stress response, and dynamically regulates the functions of many proteins. We have implemented a versatile combination of molecular, genetic, biochemical, cell biological, and genomic/proteomic approaches toward answering these questions. Our current work aims to elucidate new underlying principles of the above processes, and reveal how they are integrated with other cellular functions to achieve cell proliferation under various conditions.

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Selected Achievements

Bressler Scholar, Alfred W. Bressler Scholar Endowment Fund (2007-2010)

Research Scholar, American Cancer Society (2012-2016)

Scholar, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (2013-2018)

Discovery of the extensive SUMO-based DNA damage response

Discovery of the connection between the nuclear pore complex and desumoylation

Discovery of the Smc5/6 complex in budding yeast

Discovery of the essential function of the DNA replication and damage checkpoint

Xiaolan Zhao

At Work: Molecular Biologist Xiaolan Zhao

Molecular biologist Xiaolan Zhao explores molecular mechanisms that will help scientists better understand how human cells work.