Department of Biochemistry University of Oxford Department of Biochemistry
University of Oxford
South Parks Road
Oxford OX1 3QU

Tel: +44 (0)1865 613200
Fax: +44 (0)1865 613201
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Graduate student shortlisted in British Library writing competition
Hannah Ralph Graduate student Hannah Ralph was one of the shortlisted entrants for an international public engagement writing competition Published: 30 March 2015
Young Investigator Award for Bungo Akiyoshi
Dr Bungo Akiyoshi The American Association of Anatomists (AAA) has awarded departmental group leader Bungo Akiyoshi the R.R. Bensley Award in Cell Biology Published: 23 March 2015
Garman lab's contribution to special journal issue
Front cover of the special issue of J.Synchrotron Radiation Elspeth Garman has helped to edit a special issue of the Journal of Synchrotron Radiation, which also features research from her lab Published: 6 March 2015
Oxford Biochemistry postgrad participates in summit in Singapore
Summit speakers and Turing Award recipients discussing the science behind computing and the application of new computing methods (Photo: National Research Foundation Singapore) Ronja Woloszczuk, a DPhil student with Jane Mellor, was selected to participate in the recent Global Young Scientists Summit in Singapore Published: 5 March 2015

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Athena Swan Bronze Award


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Mark Sansom, Head of Department

Welcome to the Department of Biochemistry, part of the University of Oxford's Medical Sciences Division. We are one of the largest Biochemistry departments in the world and carry out world-class research and teaching. Our researchers come from a range of disciplines and work in a collaborative environment on all aspects of modern molecular and cellular biochemistry. We hope you enjoy reading more about our activities on these pages.

Professor Mark Sansom, Head of Department

News Highlight

Key role for newly identified sensor protein in DNA repair

DNA repair in action: DNA ligase encircles the double helix to repair a broken strand of DNA. (Wikimedia)

DNA repair in action: DNA ligase encircles the double helix to repair a broken strand of DNA. (Wikimedia) (Click to enlarge)

Researchers in the department have identified a sensor protein for a specific type of DNA damage in the cell.

Martin Cohn's lab, in collaboration with colleagues at Harvard Medical School, describe the findings in a recent paper in Cell Reports (1).

The discovery gives insight into the Fanconi anemia (FA) pathway, which cells use to repair toxic DNA interstrand crosslinks. In the longer term, it could have clinical relevance by helping to identify molecular targets for personalised cancer treatments.

Interstrand crosslinks (ICLs) are one of the many types of DNA lesions that cells must respond to and repair. The FA pathway carries out repair of ICLs via steps that include nucleotide excision repair, translesion synthesis and homologous recombination.

Researchers have identified 17 genes that work together along the FA pathway. This includes genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 that are involved in other DNA repair pathways. A defect in one of the 17 genes can give rise to Fanconi anaemia, a recessive cancer predisposition and developmental syndrome.

As Eric Liang, a third-year DPhil student in the Cohn lab who carried out much of the work explains, a protein called FANCD2 is central to the repair. 'FANCD2 is a core protein that is known to be recruited to the damage site, and other proteins follow afterwards. If FANCD2 is absent, then the pathway is completely shut off.'

The proteins that specifically recognise ICLs, however, are unknown. So Dr Cohn, a Royal Society University Research Fellow, and his former DPhil student Jamie Zhan devised an assay that would help to identify this.

They extracted nuclear protein from cells that has been treated with compounds to activate the ICL repair pathways. Then, adding biotin-labelled DNA substrates with either no ICL or an ICL, they pulled down proteins in the extract that interacted with these two structurally distinct DNA molecules.

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Studentships Available Royal Society Studentship


Departmental Event 'Biochemistry Department Retreat 2015' Wednesday 22nd Apr to Thursday 23rd Apr St. Catherine's College, ,
Sponsored Event Rita Emberton from our Admin team is doing a sponsored parachute jump Saturday 11th April All proceeds going to Cancer Research UK. See her JustGiving page


Keep in touch with the Department


SBCB Seminar Series Firdaus Samsudin, 'Proton Oligopeptide Transporters: Insights from Computer Modelling' Thursday 2nd Apr, 14:00 Main Meeting Room, New Biochemistry Building
Biochemistry Department Seminar Dr. Christian Haering, ''Shaping mitotic chromosomes'' Monday 27th Apr, 13:00 Main Meeting Room, New Biochemistry Building
Biochemistry Department Seminar Dr. Ramanujan S. Hegde, ''Mechanism of protein transport into the endoplasmic reticulum'' Monday 11th May, 13:00 Main Meeting Room, New Biochemistry Building
2nd Louise Johnson Memorial Lecture Professor John Kuriyan, 'tbc' Tuesday 19th May, 16:00 Main Meeting Room, New Biochemistry Building

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