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Minnesota Professor to Study Evolution of DNA Damage Leading to Lung Cancer

[Photo: Dr. Balbo (left) explains aspects of the mass spectrometer to two of her colleagues]

University of Minnesota School of Public Health Assistant Professor Silvia Balbo has received an RO1 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to structurally characterize the damage done to DNA segments that lead to the development of lung cancer. Dr. Balbo is an emerging expert in the field of mass spectrometry — a technique for analyzing the chemical composition of substances — and will use the method to identify areas where cancer-causing chemicals are bound to DNA. Those chemically damaged segments are known as DNA adducts and can produce cancerous cells and tissues in the body.

The study will help researchers understand the molecular pathways of lung carcinogenesis and could ultimately lead to more effective preventive, therapeutic, and diagnostic strategies for the disease.

Additionally, the study will help show how using mass spectrometry to identify DNA adducts could be useful in studies of other cancers and for additional applications in molecular epidemiology studies.