David K. Cortez, Ph.D.

Title
Professor of Biochemistry
Department
Department of Biochemistry
Institution
Vanderbilt University
Address
613 Light Hall
2215 Garland Avenue
City, State, Zip
Nashville, TN 37232
Phone
(615) 322-8547
E-mail
david.cortez[at]vanderbilt.edu
Website
https://medschool.vanderbilt.edu/cortez-lab/
Research Field
Molecular Biology
Award Year
2003

Research

My laboratory is dedicated to discovering the basic biological processes that govern cell growth and genome stability. Cancer arises as a result of genetic alterations. Cells deploy numerous genome surveillance systems to prevent and repair DNA damage and to coordinate repair with cell cycle transitions. However, cancer cells have lost some of these systems and are genetically unstable. We aim to define the components of genomic surveillance systems and understand how they work in a coordinated manner to prevent cancer by inhibiting the cell cycle, promoting DNA repair, or initiating apoptosis. The DNA damage response pathway is a signal transduction pathway that functions within the cell nucleus. Proteins involved in these pathways include ATM, ATR, p53, Chk2, Brca1, FancD2, and Blms. Mutations in the genes encoding these proteins are linked to specific cancer predisposition, developmental, and premature aging syndromes. Our primary research goal is to understand how DNA damage response pathways function to maintain genome integrity and prevent cancer.