Chemistry Professor Michelle Hamm Awarded $270,000 National Science Foundation Grant for DNA and Gene Mutation Research

July 17, 2019

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Professor of Chemistry Michelle Hamm has been awarded a $270,000 three-year grant from the National Science Foundation for her research project on DNA and genome mutation.

Michelle HammHamm uses synthetic and physical organic chemistry to address specific biological questions. Her research aims to better understand the base pairing, repair, and replication of 8-oxo-2'-deoxyguanosine (OdG), one of the most common types of DNA damage. This lesion, which is caused by radiation and metabolic respiration, has been linked to aging and several diseases, including cancer. Hamm’s investigation will provide a framework for better understanding the chemical nature of DNA mutation and repair and possibly provide insight into the link between the OdG lesion and disease.

“My group synthesizes analogs of the OdG lesion and incorporates them into short strands of DNA,” explains Hamm. “These analogs have great potential as biochemical tools, and these studies will help reveal not only how these lesions lead to DNA mutations, but also how the mutations are prevented or removed by DNA repair enzymes.”

Hamm, who has been teaching at UR since 2001, is the Clarence E. Denoon Professor of Science. Her areas of expertise include organic chemistry and biochemistry. Hamm has received research grants from NSF, Research Corporation, the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, the American Chemical Society, and the Jeffress Trust.

This NSF grant includes support for nine undergraduate research students and one post-baccalaureate fellow or technician. Hamm and her students will conduct the research in collaboration with Eugene Wu in the UR Biology Department, as well as with colleagues at MIT and the University of Arkansas. 


The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that supports basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future.