Tomas R. Lindahl

The Francis Crick Institute

Primary Section: 21, Biochemistry
Membership Type:
International Member (elected 2018)


Tomas Lindahl is a biochemist recognised for his work on DNA repair and intrinsic instability of DNA.  He has discovered several key enzymes of DNA metabolism and repair in mammalian cells.  Lindahl was born in Stockholm, Sweden and performed studies in medicine and biochemistry at the Medical School of Stockholm called Karolinska Institute.  After postdoctoral studies at Princeton University and Rockefeller University, Lindahl returned to an academic career in Stockholm and Gothenburg.  In 1980, he moved from Sweden to the UK, where he was director of The Clare Hall Laboratories of Cancer Research UK, 1984 – 2004.

He received the Copley Medal of the Royal Society, UK in 2010 and a shared Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2015.

Research Interests

Tomas Lindahl has quantitated the unexpected lability of DNA building stones under physiological conditions.  Several potential deleterious reactions occur due to hydrolysis, oxidation, and modification by reactive intracellular molecules such as coenzymes.  Loss of base residues by depurination, and potentially mutagenic deamination of cytosine, are prevalent among these changes.  The DNA repair pathways correcting such damage have been clarified.  Previously unknown enzymes, such as DNA glycosylases that release damaged bases by cleavage of base-sugar bonds in DNA, have been described.  In addition to DNA repair, enzymes that act on DNA by previously unknown strategies are of relevance in epigenetics, and most likely in aging and cancer.  Moreover, in a separate line of research Lindahl has shown that the genomes of Epstein-Barr virus are carried in transformed lymphocytes as circular episomes.

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