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John Bracht

American University
Assistant Professor, Department of Biology
The totality of DNA in a cell is its genome, and for an organism to survive, its genome must be stably maintained and properly regulated. The fundamental question I am addressing is: How is genome architecture established and maintained in healthy cells and how does it go awry in disease? To address this question I am using a unicellular eukaryote, the ciliate Oxytricha trifallax, as a model system for the role of epigenetics — information on the DNA molecule but outside the DNA sequence — in controlling genome architecture. I currently have funding from NIH to study the role of the DNA repair protein DNA-PKcs in cytosine DNA methylation, and to search for new drugs affecting DNA methylation in hopes of discovering epigenetic cancer therapies.