DNA, our genetic blueprint, is susceptible to a large number of modifications, including those arising from errors during the normal copying of the genome, spontaneous decay, reactions with natural chemical species (e.g., free radicals), or exposure to environmental genotoxic agents, such as sunlight or air pollutants.
Persistent damage to DNA can adversely affect normal cellular processes, namely DNA replication or RNA transcription, leading to permanent genetic changes or metabolic stress. Such outcomes can result in cell death, transformation, or senescence, fates that underlie degenerative diseases, cancer, and aging.
To avert the deleterious consequences of DNA damage, cells have evolved a collection of integrated systems that sense, respond to, and repair genotoxic damage or stress. Inherited or sporadic defects in these systems result in cancer predisposition, neurological abnormalities, immune-dysfunction, and premature aging, to name a few.
The aim of our research is to (i) define the biochemical and molecular choreography of key DNA repair mechanisms, (ii) determine how defects in these processes give rise to disease and aging, and (iii) identify therapeutic approaches that counteract repair mechanism deficiencies and preserve healthspan.
Prof. Dr. Wilson was born in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois in the United States of America. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Biology and Political Science from Bucknell University. He did his PhD doctoral studies at Loyola University – Stritch School of Medicine in the Molecular Biology Program under the direction of Dr. Mark R. Kelley. He conducted post-doctoral training in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Toxicology at Harvard University – School of Public Health under the guidance of Dr. Bruce Demple. His independent research efforts began at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the Biology and Biotechnology Research Program, before moving to the National Institute on Aging (intramural research program of the National Institutes of Health), where he was a Senior Investigator and Chief of the Repair of Endogenous DNA Damage Section. Prof. Dr. Wilson began his current position at Hasselt University in the Neurosciences Group in 2020.
Current Professional Service
Reviews Editor, Cellular of Molecular Life Sciences
Editorial Board, Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis
Editorial Board, International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Hasselt University Representative to European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Past Professional Service
Associate Editor, Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis
Editorial Board, Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Editorial Board, Carcinogenesis
Associate Editor, Mechanisms of Aging and Development
Editorial Board, Current Aging Science
Councilor & Executive Board Member, Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society
Have served as an external reviewer for too many manuscripts and over 40 grant applications, the latter of which has involved participation on several funding-agency grant panels.
Have been an invited speaker at over 40 international conferences and over 50 universities/institutions world-wide.
Dumitache, L.C., Shimada, M., Downing, S.M., Li, Y., Illuzzi, J.L., Russell, H.R., Wilson III, D.M., and McKinnon, P.J. Apurinic endonuclease-1 preserves genome integrity to maintain homeostasis, thermoregulation and prevent brain tumors. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 115:E12285-E12294, 2018
Iyama, T., Golato, T., Lu, H., Hamilton, R., Raja, A., Bohr, V.A., and Wilson III, D.M. Regulation of the intranuclear distribution of the Cockayne syndrome proteins. Sci. Reports 8:17490, 2018
Li, M., Yang, X., Lu, X., Dai, N., Zhang, S., Cheng, Y., Zhang, L., Yang, Y., Liu, Y., Yang, Z., Wang, D., and Wilson III, D.M. APE1 deficiency promotes cellular senescence and premature aging features in mice. Nucleic Acids Res. 46:5664-5677, 2018
McNeill, D.R., Whitaker, A.M., Stark, W.J., Illuzzi, J.L., McKinnon, P.J., Freudenthal, B.D., and Wilson III, D.M. Functions of the major abasic endonuclease (APE1) in cell viability and genotoxin resistance. Mutagenesis 35:27-38, 2020
Tiwari, V., and Wilson III, D.M. DNA damage and associated DNA repair defects in disease and premature aging. Amer. J. Hum. Genet. 105:237-257, 2019
Wilson III, D.M., Rieckher, M., Williams, A.B., and Schumacher, Björn. Systematic analysis of DNA crosslink repair pathways during development and aging in C. elegans. Nucleic Acids Res. 45:9467-9480, 2017
Complete list of peer-reviewed, journal publications can be found here.