Paul L. Modrich (Primary)

Dr. Paul Modrich
James B. Duke Professor of Biochemistry
Professor of Chemistry
Duke Cancer Institute Member
Modrich Lab, Primary Faculty
Research Interests: 

Mechanisms involved in enzymatic processing of DNA, DNA repair, origins of mutation, genetic instability in cancer development. Learn more

Lab Location
Nanaline Duke Room 157
Office Location

Nanaline Duke Room 156A, Box 3711, Durham NC 27710

(919) 684-2775

Mechanisms and functions of DNA Mismatch Repair

Mismatch repair rectifies base-pairing errors within the DNA helix, a process that has important implications for our understanding of mutation avoidance and genetic stability. We have identified multiple proteins and enzymes responsible for mismatch repair in both E. coli and human cells and have established basic mechanistic features of the pathway in both organisms. During the course of this work, we demonstrated that certain cancers are defective in mismatch repair and identified the components of the repair system that are lacking in these tumor cells. We also found that mismatch repair-defective cells are resistant to certain anti-cancer drugs. Our current interests address the molecular basis of this drug-resistant phenotype as well as the involvement of mismatch repair in the expansion of triplet repeat sequences, the cause of many neurodegenerative diseases.

Honors and Awards
  • Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (1994 - 2019)
  • Fellow, American Association for Cancer Research Academy (2017)
  • Fellow, National Academy of Inventors (2016)
  • North Carolina Award in Science (2016)
  • Arthur Kornberg and Paul Berg Lifetime Achievement Award in Biomedical Sciences, Stanford Medicine Alumni Association (2016)
  • Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2015)
  • Duke Medical Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award (2008)
  • Ohio State University Human Cancer Genetics Medal (2007)
  • American Cancer Society Medal of Honor (2005)
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2004)
  • Member, National Academy of Medicine (2003)
  • Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology (2003)
  • Feodor Lynen Medal (2000)
  • Robert J. and Claire Pasarow Foundation Award in Cancer Research (1999)
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (1998)
  • General Motors Mott Prize in Cancer Research (1996)
  • Member, National Academy of Sciences (1993)
  • Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry, American Chemical Society (1983)

PhD Stanford University, 1973