Duke University, USA
Paul Modrich received his B.S. degree in Biology from M.I.T in 1968 and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Stanford University in 1973. After postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School, he moved to UC Berkeley as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry in 1974. He joined the Department of Biochemistry at Duke 1976, where he is currently James B Duke Professor and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Modrich and colleagues clarified the nature of mismatch repair, which rectifies base-pairing errors within the DNA helix and plays an important role in the control of mutation production. They established basic features of the mechanism of the E. coli pathway, and more recently the mechanism by which mismatches are corrected in human cells. This work demonstrated that tumor cells with microsatellite instability, including those from patients with Lynch syndrome, are defective in mismatch repair and established the identity of the repair components that are lacking in these cells. Modrich and colleagues also showed that mismatch repair plays an important role in the response to certain types of DNA damage and that as a consequence, mismatch repair-defective cancer cells are resistant to certain chemotherapeutic drugs.
Paul Modrich is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and recipient of the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry, the General Motors Mott Prize in Cancer Research, the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor, the Gregor Mendel Medal, and the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.