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Department of Genetics

The Department of Genetics is a basic science department located in the George and Cynthia Mitchell Basic Sciences Research Building at the world-renowned University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in the heart of the Texas Medical Center. The focus is on advancing knowledge of the molecular genetic mechanisms that regulate normal and abnormal cellular processes. Research grant support totals approximately 10 million dollars in annual direct costs. Areas of research emphasis within the department include the identification of disease loci, the use of genetic systems to identify critical steps in development, differentiation, cell proliferation, cell death, DNA repair, and chromosome maintenance and segregation. These are important processes for cell and tissue maintenance that are often altered in cancer cells. The knowledge gained in our pursuit of basic mechanisms of cellular processes is shared with our clinical colleagues as we strive toward Making Cancer History®.

The department has 150 staff members comprised of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, instructors, non-tenure track faculty, professional research staff and administrative staff. There is a strong commitment to graduate and postgraduate education and training. The faculty members are primarily affiliated with the Genes & Development and the Human and Molecular Genetics Ph.D. Programs of Study within the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston. Training is enhanced by the John H. Blaffer Lecture Series, a weekly departmental seminar series called the Information Exchange, a weekly Research Forum for student and postdoc research presentations, and the Genes and Development Annual Retreat. An NIH T32 training grant, Molecular Genetics of Cancer (CA009299), is in its 35th year of funding, supporting four pre-doctoral students and five postdoctoral fellows.

The Center for Genetics and Genomics is one of seven centers within the Institute for Basic Science at MD Anderson, facilitating synergy in genetics and genomics research. The Center is administered through the Department of Genetics.


  • Survival of p53 mutant mice. – Lozano Lab

  • Whole mount fluorescent image of dissected gonad from C. elegans, showing germ cells with nuclei (green) and plasma membranes (red) at different stages of development. – Arur Lab 
  • Optical projection tomography image of mouse oviduct and uterus epithelia 12 days after birth. 3-dimensional structure of the uterine glands is revealed. – Behringer Lab

  • A fluorescent confocal image of the zebrafish epidermis at 4 days post-fertilization. The epithelium is a bilayer during development that is comprised of superficial periderm cells (green) and basal cells that express Np63 (magenta).  – Eisenhoffer Lab

  • Live fluorescent wholemount of wounded reporter larvae. Epidermal membranes (green); nuclei (yellow); puncture wound site (black).  Cells surrounding the wound dramatically reorient towards it.  - Galko Lab

  • Histological section of mouse skin 4 days after birth, immunofluorescent staining for Keratin 1 (red), β4-integrin (green), and DNA (blue). – Gladden Lab

  • Mouse model of Wilms tumor. Control mouse kidney (left), Wt1 mutant kidney with tumor (right). – Huff Lab

  • Immunohistochemical analysis of muscle biopsy from myotonic dystrophy type 2 patient, showing atrophic fibers positive for myosin heavy chain (brown), identifying them as fast twitch fibers. – Krahe Lab

  • A line of UV laser-induced DNA damage leads to recruitment of  gamma-H2AX (green) and Fanconi anemia group D2 (red) proteins in human osteosarcoma cells.  – Legerski Lab

  • Expression of REST (brown) in primary human medulloblastoma. – Majumder Lab

  • Frozen section of newborn testes stained for β-galactosidase (blue) from an Sf1 gene trap mouse. Sf1 directs β-galactosidase expression in the spermatogonial stem cells. – Matin Lab

  • Relative to Standard Control (SC), the injection of morpholino oligonucleotides (MO1 or MO3) to knockdown plakophilin3-catenin results in the reduced visualization of neural crest cell populations, included those that contribute to pigmented areas and to the eye of  Xenopus laevis embryos or tadpoles. In common with other catenins, plakophilin3-catenin functions at cell-cell contacts, as well as in the nucleus in gene control. – McCrea Lab

  • Circular visualization (Circos) plot of a human breast cancer genome. – Navin Lab

  • Family with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. The digit below each individual indicates the age of cancer onset for the affected or the age at last contact for unaffected relatives - Strong LFS Study


Dr. Nicholas Navin wins notable AAAS Martin & Rose Wachtel Cancer Research Award

Nicholas Navin, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Wachtel Award is an annual award that honors early career investigators performing outstanding work in cancer research. Winners receive a cash prize, deliver a public lecture on their research and have their award entry essay published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Dr. Navin was selected for his research on single-cell DNA analysis. He will present his work at the National Institutes of Health on July 31, 2015.

Dr. Guillermina Lozano receives the 2015 Paul E. Darlington Award for Outstanding Mentoring

Gigi Lozano, Ph.D.
Chair & Professor

This award recognizes a current GSBS faculty member who has made an exceptional impact, as a mentor, on students and faculty.

Dr. Jill Schumacher receives the 2015 John P. McGovern Award for Outstanding Teaching

Jill Schumacher, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

This award recognizes faculty for outstanding excellence in teaching.

Dr. Guillermina Lozano elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies

Gigi Lozano, Ph.D.
Chair & Professor

Dr. Lozano is now one of nine MD Anderson faculty members in the IOM. She was recognized for her work on the p53 tumor suppressor pathway, specifically in regards to understanding the role of p53 mutants in tumorigenesis and the roles of Mdm2 and Mdm4 as inhibitors of p53.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center