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Associate Director - Basic Biomedical Science Research

Robert Sclafani, Ph.D.



I am a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. I received my postgraduate education at Columbia University. I was a Graduate Fellow at Columbia University & the University of Utah and did a NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Genetics at the University of Washington. I joined the faculty of the Health Sciences Center in 1985. I am the Director of the Cell Biology Program of the University of Colorado Comprehensive Cancer Center, a member of the MSTP Steering Committee, the MSTP, BSP, and Molecular Biology and Human Genetics training faculty. I was a member of the Medical School Honors Committee for 20 years. I have been a course director and instructor in both medical and graduate school courses as well as course director for the graduate Core Course for 8 years.

My thematic area is Basic Science Research; sometimes referred to as “bench to bedside”. The major components Basic research include laboratory research model systems to study human biology. These systems usually include “simpler organisms” such as yeast, fruit flies, worms and mice.

My research focus is the regulation of the G1 to S phase transition of the cell cycle in yeast and human cells. Yeast as an eukaryotic microorganism is an excellent model system to study the cell cycle because facile molecular genetic techniques can be used in combination with classical biochemical and genetic methods. We use human cells in culture as a way to study the defects that are present in the cell cycle of cancer cells. My laboratory’s human studies are focused on the deregulation of the cell cycle, which occurs in cancer cells. We are determining the mode of action of several drugs found in natural products that function in cancer chemoprevention. We are also investigating the action of drugs that activate the DNA damage checkpoint pathway such as Resveratrol from red grape skins/wine.

Our current yeast studies focus on the regulation of the yeast Cdc7/Dbf4 protein kinase, which regulates the initiation of DNA replication during the somatic cell cycle. We are interested in how chromosome replication is initiated and regulated in order that high-level fidelity is maintained and mutations are prevented. Reduced fidelity of chromosomal DNA replication is known to be a factor in cancer progression. We perform both structure-function studies of the MCM complex and yeast genomic “high through-put” analyses for this purpose.

Work Phone 303-724-3271
Office Location Anschutz Medical Campus- Cancer Research Tower (RC1-South), Room 9100
Personal Link website