Joann Sweasy, PhD

Professor, Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Director, Cancer Center
Professor, Cancer Biology GIDP
Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Professor, Genetics GIDP
Professor, Radiation Oncology

I am an internationally recognized expert in the genetics, cell biology, and biochemistry of DNA repair. For the past 25 years my laboratory has been consistently funded to study the molecular basis of mutagenesis and dysfunctional DNA repair as they relate to human diseases.  The current focus of my research is on cancer and autoimmunity.  A mutator phenotype and chromosomal instability lead to cancer.  My research team probes the underlying molecular mechanisms of cancer as a result of aberrant DNA repair using biophysics, genetics, and cell biology.  We recently discovered that mutations in DNA repair genes lead to the development of the autoimmune disease of lupus and are employing novel mouse models based on human lupus to uncover the molecular basis of this disease.

Molecular Medicine Grad Program: 



Liptak, C., M. M. Mahmoud, B. E. Eckenroth, M. V. Moreno, K. East, K. S. Alnajjar, J. Huang, J. B. Towle-Weicksel, S. Doublié, P. J Loria, et al., "I260Q DNA polymerase β highlights precatalytic conformational rearrangements critical for fidelity.", Nucleic Acids Res, vol. 46, issue 20, pp. 10740-10756, 2018 11 16. PMCID: PMC6237750  PMID: 30239932
Ray, S., G. Breuer, M. DeVeaux, D. Zelterman, R. Bindra, and J. B. Sweasy, "DNA polymerase beta participates in DNA End-joining.", Nucleic Acids Res, vol. 46, issue 1, pp. 242-255, 2018 01 09. PMCID: PMC5758893  PMID: 29161447


Galick, H. A., C. G. Marsden, S. Kathe, J. A. Dragon, L. Volk, A. A. Nemec, S. S. Wallace, A. Prakash, S. Doublié, and J. B. Sweasy, "The NEIL1 G83D germline DNA glycosylase variant induces genomic instability and cellular transformation.", Oncotarget, vol. 8, issue 49, pp. 85883-85895, 2017 Oct 17. PMCID: PMC5689654  PMID: 29156764


Nemec, A. A., K. B. Bush, J. B. Towle-Weicksel, F. B Taylor, V. Schulz, J. B. Weidhaas, D. P. Tuck, and J. B. Sweasy, "Estrogen Drives Cellular Transformation and Mutagenesis in Cells Expressing the Breast Cancer-Associated R438W DNA Polymerase Lambda Protein.", Mol Cancer Res, vol. 14, issue 11, pp. 1068-1077, 2016 11. PMCID: PMC5107123  PMID: 27621267


Senejani, A. G., Y. Liu, D. Kidane, S. E. Maher, C. J. Zeiss, H-J. Park, M. Kashgarian, J. M. McNiff, D. Zelterman, A. L. M. Bothwell, et al., "Mutation of POLB causes lupus in mice.", Cell Rep, vol. 6, issue 1, pp. 1-8, 2014 Jan 16. PMCID: PMC3916967  PMID: 24388753