Genome Damage and Stability

We investigate the responses of cells to genome damage and their relationship to diseases, such as cancer, that can arise as a result.

Centre of Excellence:
Genome Damage and Stability CentreImpossible until it's done banner

The Genome Damage and Stability Centre is a University of Sussex Centre of Excellence. Our internationally-recognised centre provides a dynamic and collaborative environment for state-of-the-art research into genetic diseases. Our Centres of Excellence are drawing together world-leading experts and innovative approaches, creating a critical mass of knowledge, skills and training – and proving that a challenge is only impossible until it's done.  

Find out more about our Centres of Excellence.

Our research interests

Genomes are made up of long molecules of DNA and contain the genetic blueprint that tells every part of the body how to work. Our DNA is continually being damaged; in skin cells by sunlight, in intestinal cells by carcinogens in food and all of our cells are even damaged by some degree simply by existing at body temperature.

Luckily, our cells contain sophisticated mechanisms for repairing this damage, thereby protecting our genomes. These protective processes are the focus of our research - we study the different genetic dieseases in which one of these repair systems is faulty. 

These faulty repair systems can result in affected individuals having very high incidences of cancer (more than 1,000 times higher than in the general population). By discovering the nature of the defects, we are able not only to help diagnose and cure these conditions, but also to gain insights into how cancers arise and develop. 

Our research groups focus on different aspects of DNA damage responses and genome instability. Our main interests include:

  • Molecular and Cell Biology

    Keith Caldecott, Chris Chan, Helfrid Hochegger, Timothy Humphrey, Penny Jeggo, Alan Lehmann, Mark O'Driscoll and Evi Soutoglou are molecular and cell biologists studying DNA repair processes, cell cycle control and the replication of damaged DNA in human and other vertebrate cells. They have discovered deficiencies in these processes in several human genetic disorders and are attempting to relate the molecular defects to the clinical features of these disorders.

  • Yeast Molecular Genetics

    Tony Carr are yeast molecular geneticists, who use the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe as a model system to understand DNA damage responses in eukaryotic cells. They are investigating cell cycle checkpoints that are triggered by DNA damage and the effects of DNA damage on DNA replication. Jon Baxter, Alessandro Bianchi, Timothy Humphrey, Matt Neale and Ulrich Rass use the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model system to study DNA replication chromatin remodelling, the regulation of double strand break formation in meiosis, DNA replication and the role of telomeres in the regulation of the telomerase enzyme and the preservation of genome stability.

  • Biochemical, Cellular and Structural Properties of Multiprotein Systems

    Aidan Doherty, Antony Oliver and Laurence Pearl are structural biologists, studying the assembly, specificity, and regulation of multi-protein complexes involved in the recognition, repair and signalling of DNA damage. They are also involved in the discovery and development of novel small-molecule inhibitors with application as drugs for the treatment of cancer and other diseases. Aidan Doherty is a protein biochemist, studying biochemical, cellular and structural properties of multiprotein systems involved in DNA repair.

  • Diagnoses of Genetic Disorders

    A major focus of several research groups in the GDSC (Caldecott, Jeggo, Lehmann, O’Driscoll) is to understand the relationship between the molecular defects and clinical features of a number of genetic disorders whose underlying causes are defects in the response to DNA damage. They have developed cellular tests for these disorders and we use these tests to confirm or exclude tentative clinical diagnoses.

Tony Carr and Keith Caldecott
“Our Centre is a world leader in identifying how genomes are maintained and repaired in the harsh environment of a cell, in which DNA is subject to continuous damage and decay.” Professor Tony carr and Professor keith Caldecott
Co-Directors of the Genome Damage and Stability Centre

Our research groups

Who we work with

We have strong links with the other subject groups in the School of Life Sciences, particularly Biochemistry and Biomedicine, and we work closely with other Schools in the University too, such as the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. We work with scientists at other universities and a wide range of other external organisations across the world. 

We are grateful to all of our funders which include: Ataxia UK, BBSRC, Bloodwise, Cancer Research UK, ERC, HFSP, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Medical Research Council, The Royal Society, Wellcome Trust and Worldwide Cancer Research.


If you have any queries, please contact us at

Genome Damage and Stability Centre
Science Park Road
University of Sussex
Falmer, Brighton
East Sussex BN1 9RQ

Tel.: +44 (0)1273 678123

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