Jennifer A. Surtees PhD

Jennifer Surtees

Jennifer A. Surtees
PhD

Associate Professor

Department of Biochemistry

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences


Specialty/Research Focus

DNA Replication, Recombination and Repair; Genome Integrity; Molecular and Cellular Biology; Molecular genetics; Protein Function and Structure

Contact Information
955 Main Street
Office 4215
Lab 4230
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: (716) 829-6083
Fax: (716) 829-2725
jsurtees@buffalo.edu



Professional Summary:

In my laboratory, we are interested in the general problem of maintaining genome stability. To this end, we focus on two distinct aspects of genome stability: 1) the roles of mismatch (MMR) proteins in multiple pathways for DNA repair and 2) the manner in which regulation of dNTP pools, through the regulation of ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) activity, impacts genome integrity.

1) MMR proteins recognize many different types of DNA lesions and then target the lesion for the appropriate repair pathway. We are interested in the mechanism(s) by which recognition of a lesion is translated into the appropriate DNA repair pathway, using the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model system. Is it through differential protein-nucleic acid or protein-protein interactions? To address these questions as well as the regulation of DNA repair pathway selection, we use a combination of genetic, biochemical and biophysical approaches.

2) RNR activity modulates the level of dNTPs that are available in a cell at a given time. Higher levels of dNTPs lead to higher mutation rates. We are interested in the various ways in which misregulated dNTP pools might affect cellular metabolism and affect the stability of the genome.

Education and Training:

  • PhD, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of Toronto (2001)
  • MS, Molecular Biology, University of Toronto (1996)
  • BS, Genetics, University of Western Ontario (1993)

Employment:

  • Associate Professor, Biochemistry, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (2014-present)
  • Assistant Professor, Biochemistry, University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (2007–2014)

Awards and Honors:

  • 2020 Community Service Award for Excellence in Promoting Inclusion and Diversity (2020)

Research Expertise:

  • Mismatch repair and genome stability: In my laboratory, we are interested in the general problem of maintaining genome stability. To this end, we focus on two distinct aspects of genome stability: 1) the roles of mismatch (MMR) proteins in multiple pathways for DNA repair and 2) the manner in which regulation of dNTP pools, through the regulation of ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) activity, impacts genome integrity. 1) MMR proteins recognize many different types of DNA lesions and then target the lesion for the appropriate repair pathway. We are interested in the mechanism(s) by which recognition of a lesion is translated into the appropriate DNA repair pathway, using the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model system. Is it through differential protein-nucleic acid or protein-protein interactions? To address these questions as well as the regulation of DNA repair pathway selection, we use a combination of genetic, biochemical and biophysical approaches. Our long-term goal is to elucidate the mechanisms that bridge damage recognition and DNA repair. 2) RNR activity modulates the level of dNTPs that are available in a cell at a given time. Higher levels of dNTPs lead to higher mutation rates. We are interested in the various ways in which misregulated dNTP pools might affect cellular metabolism and affect the stability of the genome.

UB 2020 Strategic Strengths:

  • Molecular Recognition in Biological Systems and Bioinformatics

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • June 2021–June 2023
    Using Saccharomyces cerevisiae to discover and assess genetic factors that influence TNR dynamics
    Pfizer Inc.
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $569,735
  • September 2021–March 2023
    Genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in Western New York
    New York State Department of Health `
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $2,000,000
  • June 2021–December 2021
    Genomic Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in Erie County
    Erie County Department of Health
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $250,000
  • January 2015–December 2018
    Genomic identification of pathways affectd by altered dNTP metabolism(ACS RSG-14-235-01)
    American Cancer Society
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $792,000
  • June 2009–November 2015
    Roles for mismatch repair proteins in maintaining genome stability (NIH 1 R01 GM087459-01A1)
    NIH
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $1,480,000

Journal Articles:

See all (22 more)

Presentations:

  • "Genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in Western New York" Computational and Data-enabled Science and Engineering Days at UB (2022)
  • "Role of Msh2-Msh3 in promoting genomic stability and instability" Biology seminar series (2022)
  • "Mismatch repair: a tipping point between genome stability and instability" Part of webinar series at the Basic and Applied science Institute at EJUST (Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology) (2021)
  • "Genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in Erie County highlights the need for regional surveillance" UB Microbiome Center seminar series (2021)
  • "Genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in Erie County highlights the need for regional surveillance" GEM work-in-progress seminar series (2021)
  • "Medical Posthumanities: Governing health beyond the human" Virtual Workshop (2021)
  • "Mismatch repair protects cellular fitness in the presence of altered dNTP pools" R3 group Cornell University (2021)
  • "SARS-CoV-2 in Western New York" Boldly Buffalo fundraiser campaign event (2021)
  • "Covid-19 vaccines - primer for home healthcare providers" NY State Association of Health Care Providers (HCP) chapter meeting (2021)
  • "Genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in Erie County" UB mini-medical School Event focused on SARS-CoV-2 and COvid-19 (2021)
  • "Microscopic Communities: Interdisciplinary Exploration of Microbes in the Classroom" Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education webinar - part of limited series of webinars from author of recently published papers in the journal (2021)
  • "Conversations in Science: Covid-19 vaccines" Buffalo Museum of Science Conversation in Science series (2021)
See all (2 more)

Service Activities:

  • Organized and coordinated panel discussion following Photograph 51 performance at Jewish Repertory Theatre; Organizer (2021–present)
  • Co-organizer Annual Buffalo DNA Replication and Repair Symposium - Regional/National conference held in Buffalo; Co-organizer Annual Buffalo DNA Replication and Repair Symposium (2021–present)
  • Co-organizer of Medical Posthumanities: Regulating Health beyond the human - International virtual workshop; Co-organizer (2021–present)
  • Organized GEM Microbiome Symposium (2021–present)
  • Tenure and Promotion (2018–2021)
  • Handle review of manuscripts related to genomic stability for GENETICS - ~10-12 manuscripts per year.; Associate Editor (2016–2023)
  • Co-director of the Genome, Environment and Microbiome Community of Excellence Genome stability and genetic diversity (genetic variation versus genetic mutation) are fundamental questions that have broad implications for the general public. However, even as we, as scientists, push the boundaries of technology and knowledge with respect to these issues, we have failed to communicate these advances and their meaning to the general public in a broad-based manner. I am a founding co-leader and current co-director of a new UB Community of Excellence known as The Genome, Environment and Microbiome (GEM). This trans-University community is charged with integrating research, education and community engagement to address a major challenge to society. GEM’s mission consists of two equally important components:1) to advance genome and microbiome science at UB and 2) to promote genomic literacy at all levels (K-12, UB undergraduate, graduate and professional education and the broader Western New York (WNY) community (www.buffalo.edu/gem). A major goal of the Community is to engage the entire University, especially faculty and students in the arts, humanities and social sciences, to develop innovative programs and performances to attract and inform even those who do not naturally gravitate toward science.; Co-Director (2015–present)
  • Mechanisms of Genetic Inheritance;; Panel Member (2012)
  • Mechanisms of Genetic Inheritance;; Panel Member (2011)
  • American Cancer Society - TLC panel; Panel reviewer
  • NSF - MCB; Panel reviewer
  • American Cancer Society - Genetic Mechanisms in Cancer; Vice Chair
  • MD/PhD Admissions committee
  • Graduate Affairs Committee
  • Faculty Work in Progress series
  • Thesis committee - Natalie Jay
  • Thesis Committee - Mohamed Sharif
  • Thesis committee - Shuhang Dai - Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • Thesis committee - Anna Stovall - Microbiology and Immunology
  • Thesis committee - Nick Clark - Structural Biology
  • Student Progress Committee
  • Coordinate GEM Work-in-progress seminar series
  • Honors College
  • Mentoring committee - to develop mentor training for faculty
  • Bias Advisory Team - The committee will provide a timely administrative response to national and local events that may impact the medical and graduate students of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
  • Local, regional, national and international media communications; Media communications
  • Coordinated effort to develop vaccine education materials for the community and for K-12 students; Organizer
  • Reviewed manuscripts for NAR, NAR Methods, Yeast, Computational and Structural Biotechnology and BBA - Protein and Proteomics; Reviewer

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Contact Information

955 Main Street
Office 4215
Lab 4230
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: (716) 829-6083
Fax: (716) 829-2725
jsurtees@buffalo.edu