Joann Sweasy, PhD, Joins UA Cancer Center as Associate Director for Basic Sciences

Previously at Yale University, Dr. Sweasy brings expertise in basic sciences that will facilitate translational research.

TUCSON, Ariz. – Joann Sweasy, PhD, an expert in DNA repair and genomic instability, has joined the University of Arizona Cancer Center as associate director for basic sciences.

Dr. Sweasy also has been appointed to a joint faculty position at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson in the Departments of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Radiation Oncology. 

Dr. Sweasy’s research focuses on genomic instability and how it leads to mutations that result in human diseases, such as cancer. A major focus of her laboratory is to understand how single nucleotide polymorphisms found in DNA repair genes, including genes that function in homology-directed repair, non-homologous end-joining and base-excision repair in the germline and somatic tissues impact cancer risk and treatment. 

“I look forward to working with the strong basic and translational scientists at the UA Cancer Center,” Dr. Sweasy said. “The UA Cancer Center offers significant opportunities to build teams and bring basic science to the bench side.” 

Prior to joining the UA, Dr. Sweasy was associate director for basic sciences and co-leader of the Radiobiology and Radiotherapy Program at the Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center, where she had oversight of pilot funding for the Yale Cancer Center and all cancer-focused internal grant competitions at Yale University. She also is an adjunct professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the University of Vermont. 

“Dr. Sweasy brings a tremendous amount of scientific expertise in multiple fields and the ability to enhance both the growth and interaction among our four programs,” said UA Cancer Center Director Andrew Kraft, MD. “She is highly collaborative and focused on the associate director job, having done this at Yale, which will be a major asset to the University of Arizona.”

In her role as associate director for basic sciences, she will develop and promote research for the growth in cancer basic sciences. She also will work closely with the UA Cancer Center research programs, ensuring that basic science is well integrated across the four established programs: cancer biology, therapeutic development, cancer imaging and cancer prevention and control.

“It is critical to take innovative scientific approaches from the laboratory and translate them into the clinic,” said UA Cancer Center Deputy Director William Cance, MD. “Likewise, it also is important to take our patients’ medical issues and move them into the laboratory. The ability to go in both directions is crucial as we serve the entire state of Arizona.”

Dr. Sweasy received her doctorate in microbiology at Rutgers University and conducted postdoctoral studies at the University of Washington.