Prof. Ashok Venkitaraman delivers Distinguished Lecture at UoH


Prof. Ashok Venkitaraman, Ursula Zoellner Professor of Cancer Research and Director of the MRC Cancer Unit, University of Cambridge, UK delivered a distinguished lecture titled Cancer Support mechanisms that guard the Human Genome at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) on 12th February 2014. This lecture was webcast live on the National Knowledge Network site


Addressing a packed auditorium of students, faculty and staff of the University, Prof. Venkitaraman stated that Chromosomes serve as the functional and physical containers for the information encoded in the human genome. Instability in their structure and number is a hallmark of human epithelial cancers, which is triggered early in their development. What provokes chromosomal instability, and how it fosters cancer pathogenesis, remain major unresolved questions central to understanding carcinogenesis. Moreover, the near-universal occurrence of chromosomal instability in common epithelial malignancies offers important opportunities for devising new approaches to cancer therapy, he added.

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He also discussed insights into these issues that come from his studies on the macromolecular interactions that control DNA replication, repair and mitotic progression, the key cancer suppressor mechanisms that maintain chromosome stability in normal cells. Prof. Venkitaram said, “To understand these processes at resolutions ranging from molecules to organisms, we have used an integrative and interdisciplinary approach, combining somatic cell genetics, single-molecule biophysics, chemical biology and transgenic models.”


Prof. Venkitaraman is internationally recognized for his research on the molecular mechanisms that preserve chromosome structure and number during cell division, and how defects in these mechanisms cause human cancer. His discoveries shed light on how chromosomal instability contributes to human cancer, provide scientific foundations underpinning new approaches to therapy, and reveal new insights into the fundamental mechanisms that repair, duplicate and segregate DNA when cells divide. Translation of these discoveries to clinical application is a major focus of Prof. Venkitaraman’s ongoing work.


Prof. Aparna Datta Gupta, Dean, School of Life Sciences gave the welcome and Prof. Ramakrishna Ramaswamy, Vice-Chancellor, UoH presided and introduced the speaker.