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Funding to Establish Research Group to Study DNA Damage, Repair

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Mainz University said today that the German Research Foundation (DFG) has awarded €1.5 million ($2 million) to an investigator to establish a research group at Mainz's Institute of Molecular Biology that will use proteomics technologies to study DNA damage and repair, and genome stability.

Investigator Petra Beli, formerly of the Novo Nordisk Foundation's Center for Protein Research in Copenhagen, will lead the new IMB group, which will use quantitative mass spectrometry-based tools to study how histones and other chromatin-associated proteins are modified by ubiquitin.

Beli received the funding to create the group through DFG's Emmy Noether Program award, which supports young researchers who have worked internationally to establish independent research groups early in their careers.

While working at Novo Nordisk Foundation's Center for Protein Research, Beli developed mass spec methods for studying the dynamics of protein phosphorylation and ubiquitylation during DNA damage signaling. She and her colleagues at the center, led by associate professor Chunaram Choudhary, would damage DNA using radiation or chemical drugs and then use mass spectrometry to identify proteins and their chemical modifications, a strategy Beli described in work published last year in Molecular Cell.

She said that this approach enabled them to follow thousands of the protein modifications that occurred during the process of DNA repair, and that the extensive data from these experiments will require much more work to understand how these signaling pathways function.