Jennifer A. Surtees, PhD

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and STEM Outreach

Jennifer Surtees PhD; Department of Biochemistry; Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo; 2021.

A professor of biochemistry, Jennifer A. Surtees, PhD, is an internationally recognized expert on genome stability and genetic diversity. A member of the Jacobs School faculty since 2007, she has served as co-director of the Genome, Environment and Microbiome (GEM) Community of Excellence at UB, which advances understanding of the genome and microbiome, and their interaction with the environment, through research, education, community programs and art.

As co-director of GEM, Surtees spearheaded genome and microbiome literacy programs in the community, particularly the city of Buffalo, through engaging events to promote conversation and hands-on inquiry-based activities, workshops and lessons for K-12 and adult populations.

For her work, she was honored with the Jacobs School’s Community Service Award for Excellence in Promoting Inclusion and Diversity.

Surtees’ research focuses on the general problem of maintaining genome stability, which refers to an organism’s or cell’s ability to accurately transmit genetic material to a new generation. Topics of interest include how genetic mutations threaten that stability and sometimes lead to cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she worked with UB colleagues and the Erie County Public Health Laboratory to conduct genetic sequencing of virus samples in Western New York, aiding the region’s response, identifying new variants and helping the community understand how infections were changing locally as the virus evolved. The team continues to perform whole genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 from clinical samples and wastewater as part of the New York State Covid Genomic Sequencing Consortium.

Surtees earned her bachelor’s degree in genetics from Western University (Ontario), and a master’s degree and PhD in molecular and medical genetics from the University of Toronto.

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