Patricia Opresko

Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Pittsburgh

Our laboratory works at the interface between the fields of DNA Damage & Repair and Telomere Biology. Telomeres cap chromosome ends and profoundly influence genome stability, life span and human health. When chromosomes lose their telomere caps the cells can no longer divide, causing loss of regenerative capacity which drives degenerative diseases during aging. If telomeric caps are lost in pre-cancerous cells then this causes genetic alterations that hasten the progression to cancer. Telomeres shorten with age, but genetic and environmental factors can accelerate telomere loss. We want to understand how DNA damage at telomeres impacts their function, and whether or how the damage is repaired. The long term goals of our research are to develop novel strategies that preserve telomeres in healthy cells and delay aging-related diseases including cancer, or that conversely target telomeres in cancer cells to stop their proliferation.

Experience

  • –present
    Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Pittsburgh