Tanya Paull Becomes HHMI Investigator, First for University of Texas at Austin Professor

May 29, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas — Biologist Tanya Paull has become the first faculty member at The University of Texas at Austin to be named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator, joining 55 of the nation's most creative biomedical scientists in this year's group.

The institute commits more than $600 million to the 56 scientists over their first term of appointment and gives them the flexibility to tackle their most ambitious, risky research plans.

"These 56 scientists will bring new and innovative ways of thinking about biology to the HHMI community," said Thomas Cech, president of HHMI. "They are poised to advance scientific knowledge dramatically in the coming years, and we are committed to providing them with the freedom and flexibility to do so."

Paull, an associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology, has dedicated her career to understanding DNA repair. Breaks in DNA happen thousands of times a day, and without repair can lead to genetic mutations and cancer.

Paull focuses her research on a complex of proteins called MRN that repair the frayed ends of DNA's damaged double helix. Her work has implications for understanding cancer development and a genetic disease known as ataxia telangiectasia, or A-T. The disease, which affects about one in 100,000 people, makes people very radiation sensitive and leads to neurological degeneration.

Read more about Paull's research at the HHMI Web site.

For more information, contact: Lee Clippard, College of Natural Sciences, 512-232-0675.