Richard D. Kolodner, PhD

Richard D. Kolodner, PhD
Member and Head of the Laboratory of Cancer Genetics, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research; Distinguished Professor, Departments of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine; University of California San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego, California

Richard D. Kolodner, PhD | Class of 2014

Discoveries by Dr. Kolodner have been fundamental to understanding human cancer susceptibility and cancer etiology. The majority of Dr. Kolodner’s research has been geared toward defining the role of DNA mismatch repair mechanisms and other pathways in the maintenance of genomic integrity, processes that prevent the occurrence of cancer-causing genetic changes.

To accomplish these research goals, Dr. Kolodner and his laboratory have used yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) as a model system by which to study the genetics of mismatch repair, focusing on many different genes and the proteins they encode. These studies have demonstrated that inherited mutations in mismatch repair genes such as MSH2 are capable of causing cancer, specifically hereditary non-polyopsis colon cancer (HNPCC, also called Lynch syndrome). More specifically, Dr. Kolodner discovered that inherited mutations in genes such as MSH1 and MSH2 are responsible for over 50 percent of all HNPCC cases, whereas a smaller proportion of atypical HNPCC cases are attributed to MSH6 mutations.

In addition to identifying specific cancer-causing mutations, Dr. Koldner has also worked to identify the genes and pathways responsible for preventing accumulation of genetic insults such as chromosomal rearrangements. His work in this arena has elucidated the genetic and epigenetic basis of defects, including those related to DNA mismatch repair, in sporadic cancers beyond HNPCC. Together, these findings and those previously defined by Dr. Kolodner, continue to be used to develop novel diagnostic screening tests for various disease malignancies.

Career Highlights

​2013  Elected Member, Institute of Medicine
2008  Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2007  Kirk A. Landon-AACR Prize for Basic Cancer Research
2006  Katharine Berkan Judd Award Lectureship, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
2002  Ernst W. Bertner Memorial Award, MD Anderson Cancer Center
2000  Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC
2000  Mutation Research Award for Scientific Excellence
1998  Elected Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology
1996  Charles S. Mott Prize, General Motors Cancer Research Foundation
1994  Richard P. and Claire W. Morse Scientific Award, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
1994  Sandoz Special Scientific Award
1992  MERIT Award, National Institutes of Health
1975  PhD, University of California, Irvine