Dirk Hockemeyer, Ph.D.

Title
Assistant Professor
Department
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology
Institution
University of California, Berkeley
Address
400B Li Ka Shing Center
City, State, Zip
Berkeley, CA 94720
Phone
(646) 269-0503
E-mail
hockemeyer[at]berkeley.edu
Website
http://mcb.berkeley.edu/labs/hockemeyer/home
Research Field
Molecular Biology
Award Year
2016

Research

The goal of my research is to understand how telomeres—DNA sequences at the ends of our chromosomes—are maintained at the proper length. As cells divide, telomeres get shorter over time, but cells can lengthen them if needed using an enzyme called telomerase. Maintaining proper telomere length is crucial for cellular function—telomeres that are too short can prevent stem cells from maintaining young, healthy tissues. Alternatively, telomeres that are too long support unbalanced cell proliferation and cancer development. My laboratory is characterizing mutations in certain genes that control telomerase function in cancer cells. I will use genome-editing techniques together with an engineered human stem-cell system to shed light on how telomerase activity is controlled during cellular aging and cancer. This is a unique approach that will shed light on telomerase behavior in different cell types, which could reveal how cells maintain a balance of growth and arrest, and inform the development of new cancer therapies.