The focus of Professor Sweasy’s research is genomic instability and how it leads to the mutations that result in human diseases such as cancer. A major focus of the laboratory is to understand how single nucleotide polymorphisms found in DNA repair genes, including genes that function in homology directed repair (HDR), nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) and base excision repair (BER) in the germline and somatic tissues impact cancer risk and treatment. These and other studies impact scientists’ fundamental understanding of DNA repair and have the potential to lead to the design of targeted cancer therapeutics.
After receiving her B.A. from Beaver College, Sweasy became a staff scientist at Merck, Sharpe and Dohme Research Laboratories, where she worked on the development of Ivermectin, currently on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. She earned a Ph.D. in microbiology at Rutgers University and conducted postdoctoral studies at the University of Washington. In 1993, Sweasy joined the Yale faculty as an assistant Professor of therapeutic radiology. Subsequently, she has held several academic and administrative appointments, including serving as a full Professor in the Departments of Therapeutic Radiology and Genetics, and associate Director for basic sciences at the Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center. Sweasy is also an adjunct Professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the University of Vermont.
The Yale Professor has received research grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Cancer Institute, and the Blue Skye Foundation, among other institutions.
Sweasy has contributed numerous research articles, book chapters, and reviews to edited volumes and journals. She is on the editorial boards of Cancer Research, DNA Repair, and the Journal of Cellular Physiology. Sweasy has served as chair of the radiation, therapy and biology study section of the National Institutes of Health and is currently a member of the Cancer Etiology Study Section.
Sweasy’s honors include the Anna and Argall Hull Fellowship, the American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Research Award, and the 2016 Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society Annual Award for scientific excellence. She received a Donaghue Investigator Award and is a member of the Connecticut Academy of Sciences and Engineering.