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NIH awards $400,000 grant for Hormel Institute scientist's ovarian cancer research

Rafael Contreras-Galindo's research looks at the cause of ovarian cancer, which Contreras-Galindo thinks is connected to specific DNA sequence mutations.

The Hormel Institute
Rafael Contreras-Galindo, assistant professor and leader of the Genome Instability and Chromosome Biology research section at the Hormel Institute.
Contributed / The Hormel Institute and Dean Riggott Photography
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AUSTIN — A Hormel Institute scientist studying the origins of ovarian cancer has received a substantial two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue his research.

The NIH awarded $400,000 to Rafael Contreras-Galindo, an assistant professor and leader of the institute's Genome Instability and Chromosome Biology research section.

Contreras-Galindo's research involves studying centromeres, which keep sister chromatids — the two halves of a chromosome — together during cell division. Centromeres make up the centrally located DNA sequences in chromosomes and help ensure that when a cell splits into two, both cells have properly copied DNA.

“My lab has made further steps in centromere research, discovering that centromere DNA sequences in specific chromosomes are markedly deleted in ovarian cancer cells, suggesting that centromere mutations are associated with this disease,” Contreras-Galindo said.

With the grant, Contreras-Galindo will continue his research into the possible link between centromere mutations and ovarian cancer, which an estimated 20,000 people are diagnosed with each year.


“We will be using cutting-edge technology to modify specific centromere DNA sequences in normal fallopian tube epithelial cells, the origin of most ovarian cancer," Contreras-Galindo said. "This will allow us to gain insight into the role that centromere mutations play in ovarian carcinogenesis."

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