Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Academic Mentor attends 2015 Nobel Prize Ceremony in honour of winning supervisor

A research professor at NUI Galway helped honour his previous supervisor for winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015, awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm last week. Professor Bob Lahue from the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway, trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Nobel laureate Professor Paul Modrich of Duke University in the United States.

Professor Modrich, the James B Duke professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Duke University’s School of Medicine, was one of three scientists to share the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for landmark discoveries over four decades of work in DNA repair. The Nobel Committee cited one of the Lahue-Modrich publications as groundbreaking. The Nobel Committee recognised Professor Modrich’s work on mismatch repair, which acts as a genetic spellchecker to preserve the DNA. Defects in mismatch repair are now known to cause certain hereditary forms of colorectal cancer. Genetic testing of cancer patients helps identify those with mismatch repair defects, providing information which is important in guiding their treatment.

Commenting from the Nobel Prize ceremony, NUI Galway’s Professor Lahue said: “Our DNA is damaged every day in every cell. DNA repair is a fix-it machine that repairs the damage and keeps our genetic information safe. It was tremendously exciting to discover how mismatch repair worked. Paul is an outstanding supervisor and I feel very lucky to have trained in his laboratory. It was wonderful to see him honoured with a Nobel Prize for his seminal work.”

Professor Lahue has worked since 2007 at NUI Galway’s Centre for Chromosome Biology and has acted as an academic mentor to numerous Irish Research Council-funded Government of Ireland Scholars and Fellows.