The Maciejowski lab will probe the mechanisms that drive the chromosomal rearrangements associated with cancer progression. Cancer cells display a huge variety of DNA disfigurement, from small “point” mutations to breakage and rearrangements that swap bits of chromosomes and compromise their integrity. In some cases, two chromosomes become fused end-to-end. As a postdoctoral fellow, I found that such “dicentric” chromosomes can get trapped between daughter cells as they attempt to divide, an event that can spark catastrophic chromosome shattering. Now, using a combination of cutting-edge techniques in molecular genetics, live-cell imaging, and genome sequencing, our group will trigger the formation of a dicentric chromosome in a living cell and identify the genes and molecules required for these aberrant structures to initiate chromosome shattering. We will also assess whether this fragmentation occurs in one step or requires multiple rounds of chromosome breakage and fusion. These findings could reveal new strategies for the treatment of a variety of human cancers.