Understanding how cells repair DNA damage
London Research Institute
Clare Hall Laboratories
Web: Lab website
About Simon Boulton
Dr Simon Boulton leads the DNA Damage Response lab at our London Research Institute. Damage to DNA - our genetic code - is at the heart of cancer development. Dr Boulton is investigating how cells normally sense DNA damage and repair it accurately. This cutting-edge work is providing valuable insights into what goes wrong in cancer cells.
Our DNA is constantly under assault from chemical reactions taking place in our bodies and from things we're exposed to in our everyday lives such as UV radiation from the sun. Most of the time, DNA damage is repaired successfully by the cell. But if the cell continues to grow whilst its DNA is already damaged, it can lead to cancer.
Dr Boulton and his team are using a number of techniques to study DNA damage repair. In particular, they are investigating this highly complex process by first studying it inside a microscopic worm called C. elegans and then extending these findings to human cells.
The team have shown remarkable similarities between the genes and proteins used to repair DNA damage in the worm and in humans revealing this to be a very useful approach. By studying this fundamental process of DNA damage repair, the researchers have contributed to our understanding of how faults in the system can lead to cancer.
Dr Boulton is an outstanding young scientist and has won several awards for his excellent work in this area. In 2006, he was awarded the Colworth Medal and in 2007, he received the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) Young Investigators Programme Prize. In 2008, he was awarded the prestigious European Association for Cancer Research (EACR) Young Researcher Award, and in 2011 he received the EMBO Gold Medal award.
Listen to an interview with Dr Boulton describing how tiny worms are helping us to understand cancer: