Joann Sweasy, PhD

Interim Director, Cancer Center Division
Associate Director, Basic Sciences

Biography

Dr. Sweasy earned her doctoral degree from Rutgers University, studying the role of the RecA protein in the SOS response to DNA damage, under the direction of Dr. Evelyn M. Witkin. She initiated her research on the fidelity of DNA synthesis at the University of Washington in Dr. Lawrence Loeb’s laboratory. After joining Yale University School of Medicine in 1993, she rose through the ranks to become the Ensign Professor of Therapeutic Radiology and Associate Director for Basic Sciences at the Yale Cancer Center. Dr. Sweasy is currently a tenured professor in Cellular and Molecular Medicine and is Associate Director, Basic Sciences at the University of Arizona Cancer Center. 

Cancer Focus

Dr. Sweasy is an internationally recognized expert the genetics, cell biology, and biochemistry of DNA repair. For the past 25 years her laboratory has been consistently funded by the National Cancer Institute to study the molecular basis of mutagenesis and dysfunctional DNA repair as they relate to human diseases including cancer and autoimmunity. Dr. Sweasy’s research team recently discovered that dynamic conformational changes are important for accurate DNA synthesis. The team has also shown that human germline and somatic genetic variants of base excision repair genes are linked to carcinogenesis because they are unable to properly remove damaged DNA bases, leading to genomic instability, mitotic catastrophe, and other cancer-associated phenotypes.