Richard D. Wood, PhD is the J. Ralph Meadows Chair in Carcinogenesis at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He received a BS degree from Westminster College, Salt Lake City, and a PhD in Biophysics from the University of California, Berkeley. He did postdoctoral work at Yale University and at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF, now Cancer Research UK). He was a faculty scientist at ICRF from 1988 to 2001. From 2001-2008 he was Richard Cyert Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. In 2008 he joined the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was elected a member of EMBO, and the NAS. He has received the Meyenburg Award for Cancer Research (1998), the Environmental Mutagenesis & Genomics Society Award (2021) and the R. Lee Clark Prize (2021).

Research Interests

Wood’s laboratory conducts research on the biochemistry and genetics of DNA repair in mammalian cells. DNA repair in our cells is a front-line defense against the mutations that cause cancer. Moreover, the aim of many cancer therapies is to disable tumors by using DNA-damaging radiation and drugs. His research group reconstituted a major DNA repair process, nucleotide excision repair, with purified proteins from human cells. These experiments included the discovery of the roles of replication proteins during this process and the definition of the overall mechanism of the reaction at the molecular level – including opening the double helix by a multi-protein complex. The work revealed the specific biochemical defects in xeroderma pigmentosum, an inherited disease conferring a greatly increased risk of skin cancer. Wood’s group also isolated the mammalian nucleotide excision repair nucleases and discovered their action via structure-specific incision. This work helped found the field of DNA structure-selective enzymology, now studied in multiple areas of DNA biology. His recent work focuses on the roles and biochemical activities of DNA polymerases in genome stability and cancer. These include DNA polymerases theta, zeta, and homologous recombination modulators in human cells.

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Primary Section

Section 41: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology

Secondary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry