The DNA in each of our cells is continuously being damaged and repaired. For example, exposure to sunlight can damage DNA as can DNA replication, the normal process by which DNA is copied before cells divide. The damage is repaired by a number of different molecular pathways that work together to maintain what is known as genome integrity, so most of the time the damage is repaired and we are none the worse for wear. However, errors in the repair process can have serious consequences such as leading to diseases like cancer. Notably, while the DNA is packed into the cell’s nucleus, it isn’t just “thrown in there”- the DNA is organized in a way that can impact how it is repaired (and how it is read and copied, too).
My current research focuses on the spatial and temporal regulation of DNA repair, that is, what happens with the broken ends, how do the necessary repair proteins get to the damage site, what happens once they get there, etc. I chose the name DynamicDNA for this website because the coordination of these activities is an active, dynamic process. Additionally I am very interested in the intersection of recombinant DNA technology and genetic engineering with our daily lives and how non-scientists understand and reacts to those technologies. So in this context, DynamicDNA refers to changes in an organism’s genome, particularly through the application of biotechnology.
This website highlights my past and current research and my teaching pursuits in the classroom and as a mentor in the lab. I am also developing a blog, which will be directed at non-biologists with the goal of explaining the science behind timely topics of general interest – for example genetically engineered crops and gene therapy – along with a straight forward explanation of some of the basic biology needed to fully understand these concepts (e.g. what is a gene). I can be contacted at <dan.strongin (at) dynamicdna (dot) org> and I also welcome suggestions for blog topics.