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UCSF Radiation Oncology
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John P. Murnane


Professor, Vice Chair Department of Radiation Oncology

Mount Zion Cancer Research Building
2340 Sutter St., Room S329
San Francisco, CA 94143-1331
Phone: (415) 476-9083
Fax: (415) 476 9069
Email: JMurnane[at]RadOnc.ucsf.edu

Professional Focus

Dr. Murnane is a molecular biologist with over 25 years in the field of radiation biology. Dr. Murnane is responsible for teaching radiobiology to medical and physics residents in the Department of Radiation Oncology, as well as supervising a medical research laboratory. His research interests focus on the mechanisms of genomic instability in mammalian cells and their role in cancer. Genomic instability is considered an important step in cancer because it can greatly accelerate the genetic changes leading to tumor cell progression. Dr. Murnane pioneered studies on the importance of cell cycle regulation in the cellular response to DNA damage and was the first to describe the alternative mechanism for telomere maintenance in human cells. His current interests lie in understanding the role of spontaneous and radiation-induced telomere loss in genomic instability and cancer. Telomeres are the caps that protect the ends of chromosomes and prevent chromosomes from fusing together. Dr. Murnane's research has demonstrated that cancer cells have a high rate of telomere loss due to problems in telomere maintenance. His work also shows that both spontaneous telomere loss, or telomere loss caused by double-strand breaks similar to those caused by ionizing radiation, can both initiate genomic instability and generate many of the types of chromosome alterations commonly associated with cancer. Understanding these processes may lead to new approaches to limiting or preventing genomic instability and thereby reduce its role in promoting cancer.