Modrich, Paul Lawrence

Modrich, Paul Lawrence,

1946–, American biochemist and molecular geneticist, b. Raton, N.M., Ph.D. Stanford Univ., 1973. Modrich joined the faculty at the Duke Univ. School of Medicine in 1976, and he has been a Howard Hughes Investigator since 1994. He shared the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Aziz SancarSancar, Aziz,
1946–, Turkish-American biochemist and molecular biologist, M.D. Istanbul Univ., 1969, Ph.D. Univ. of Texas at Dallas, 1977. From 1977to 1982, Sancar was a researcher at the Yale School of Medicine. In 1982, he joined the faculty at the Univ.
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 and Tomas LindahlLindahl, Tomas,
1938–, Swedish-born British biochemist, grad. Karolinska Institute (Ph.D. 1967, M.D. 1970). Lindahl was a professor at the Univ. of Gothenburg from 1978 to 1982.
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 for clarifying the biochemical mechanisms involved in three types of DNA repair, discoveries that laid the foundation for targeted cancer therapies that leave healthy cells unharmed. Modrich's contribution was in mismatch repair, which occurs when mistakes occur during DNA replication. He discovered that this type of error is corrected by a natural process that removes a piece of the mutant strand and replaces it with a new section. Modrich initially identified this form of repair in Escherichia coliEscherichia coli
, common bacterium that normally inhabits the intestinal tracts of humans and animals, but can cause infection in other parts of the body, especially the urinary tract.
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 and later found it in humans, where its inactivation can lead to cancer.