The VICC.ORG Investigator Directory

Sandra Zinkel, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Medicine (Hematology/Oncology)
Assistant Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology
Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology
VICC Member
Medical Oncologist, Hematologist

Contact Information:

Vanderbilt University Medical Center
2220 Pierce Ave , PRB 548
Nashville , TN 37232-6307
Fax: 615-936-3853

Research Specialty:

BCL-2 family, BID, DNA damage response, leukemia, Apoptosis, Biochemistry, Cancer, Cell cycle, DNA repair, Knockout, Mass spectroscopy, Mouse, Phosphorylation, Proteomics, Signal transduction, Stem cells

Research Description:

My lab is interested in understanding the mechanisms by which normal and malignant cells regulate programmed cell death or apoptosis following DNA damage. Multicellular organisms have devised a tightly regulated, genetically programmed mechanism of cell suicide to maintain homeostasis and to prevent propagation of genetically damaged cells. The discovery of the BCL-2 family of genes uncovered the underlying genetic mechanism of this regulation, as well as a class of oncogenes that governs cell death rather than cell proliferation.

Current studies focus on the pro-death BCL-2 family member BID. The deletion of BID in mice prolongs the lives of myeloid cells culminating in the development of a fatal disorder resembling the human disease chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML). Our recent work has shown an additional role for BID in preserving genomic integrity that is distinct from its pro-apoptotic role. Following DNA damage, BID is phosphorylated by the DNA damage kinase ATM and plays a role in cell cycle checkpoint control. Cells initiate a complex series of responses subsequent to DNA damage including activation of cell cycle checkpoints, promoting DNA repair, or activating apoptosis. BID, with its dual function in apoptosis and the DNA damage response, is well situated to serve as a mediator in determining cell fate following DNA damage.

An additional focus of the lab is on the role of the Bcl-2 family of proteins in hematopoietic differentiation and stem cell function.

The projects in my lab use hematopoietic cell culture systems, mouse models, immunofluorescence, as well as apoptosis, cell cycle checkpoint and DNA repair assays to understand the signals and protein interactions that direct BID to assume an apoptotic or cell cycle checkpoint/DNA repair role following treatment with agents inducing DNA damage. An additional focus is to dissect the mechanism of Bcl-2 family members in mouse models of leukemia. Our studies provide new insights into the interplay between apoptosis and cell cycle checkpoint/DNA repair responses following DNA damage, and their role in myeloid homeostasis and leukemogenesis.



  • M.D. - University of Chicago
  • Ph.D. - Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University

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