Brookhaven Lab scientist wins Environmental Mutagen Society Award

Upton, NY - Richard Setlow, a senior biophysicist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, has been named the recipient of the 2002 Environmental Mutagen Society (EMS) Award. He is being recognized for his research contributions to the field of environmental mutagenesis, which involves the study of how various agents in the environment, such as chemicals and radiation, lead to DNA damage and how that damage is repaired. DNA is the material that forms the molecular basis for heredity.

The award will be formally announced at the annual EMS meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, on April 30. Setlow will receive a plaque and monetary award.

"I am pleased to be chosen for this award," said Setlow. "I am gratified that discoveries I've made have had wide application in many fields and have advanced scientific understanding of how genetics, the environment, and human health are interconnected."

Specifically, Setlow is being honored for his discovery of nucleotide excision repair and the development of a method called bromouracil photolysis to study excision repair. He also was cited for his discovery of a crucial link between unrepaired DNA damage and cancer.

Almost forty years ago, Setlow and his colleagues at Oak Ridge National Laboratory discovered that certain DNA defects caused by ultraviolet light lead to biological damage. He also showed that, in normal bacterial cells, these defects could be removed by cellular enzymes, a process known as nucleotide excision repair. This repair cuts out the damaged regions and patches the resulting holes. This groundbreaking research led to great interest in repair, since certain genetic diseases stem from inherited deficiencies in DNA repair.

In the early 1970s, Setlow and James Regan, a colleague at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, developed bromouracil photolysis, a method to measure DNA repair that became a standard technique. They incorporated bromouracil, an analog of thy

Contact: Diane Greenberg
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

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