Sharon Y. R. Dent, Ph.D.
Dr. Sharon Dent was named the Director of Science Park and J. Ralph Meadows Chair of the Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis in September 2010. She is an international leader in defining the function and regulation of histone-modifying proteins and how they influence chromatin and transcription. In 2019, she was named the Ruth Legett Jones Distinguished Chair.
Dr. Dent received a B.S. in biochemistry at North Texas State University and a Ph.D. in biochemistry at Rice University. She completed her postdoctoral training at Baylor College of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health and joined the MD Anderson Faculty as an assistant professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1993.
Dr. Dent rose through the ranks to become professor and deputy chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Rebecca Meyer Brown and Joseph Mellinger Brown Chair in Basic Research, and co-director of the Center for Epigenetics Research at the MD Anderson Houston campus before being recruited to the Science Park. Dr. Dent has published over 125 primary peer-reviewed papers, scholarly invited review articles, and book chapters in first-tier journals including Cell, Molecular Cell, Nature, Science, Genes & Devevelopment, and the EMBO Journal. Her scientific accomplishments led to her election as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow in 2012.
Dr. Dent has a long-standing interest in understanding how chromatin organization regulates nuclear processes. Her research is directed at defining the functions of histone-modifying enzymes, both in normal biological processes and in disease states, using genetic approaches in yeast, mice and human cells. Her early work provided the first evidence that transcriptional corepressor complexes function through the organization of chromatin.
Dr. Dent's more recent studies have revealed new and unexpected functions for several histone-modifying enzymes demonstrating that these enzymes are important not only for the regulation of gene transcription but also for diverse cellular processes including mitosis, protein stability and telomere maintenance. Dr. Dent’s lab has also discovered new nodes of post-translational cross-talk in non-histone proteins, and is now working to determine how misregulation of these activities contributes to human disease, including highly aggressive cancers and neurological disorders.