When Fred Sanger figured out how to sequence DNA in 1975, the world changed — and so did UNC. As more and more scientists dove headfirst into the field of genetics, the university realized the need for a department dedicated to this cause. Since its founding in 2000, the UNC Department of Genetics has continuously made the top-five list of NIH program funding and has grown to include 80 faculty, who have taken the world of research and medicine by storm.
As chief of research strategy, Joyce Tan is responsible for the development and implementation of research strategy for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. She works with leadership throughout campus to facilitate interdisciplinary research programs and to grow the university’s global reputation, encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship. She also promotes research partnerships with external public and private organizations.
Noelle Romero is the program coordinator for the Chancellor’s Science Scholars and UNC-PROPS. In August 2016, she successfully defended her thesis within the Curriculum in Genetics & Molecular Biology. Her research focuses on how to prevent problems that arise from damaged DNA, such as cancer, through studying Fancm, a protein that helps repair it.
Catherine Fahey is an MD-PhD student studying genetics and molecular biology within the UNC School of Medicine. In February 2017, she successfully defended her dissertation. She is also the co-leader of the student organization UNC Advocates for MD-PhD Women in Science. Her research focuses on how protein-modifying gene mutations contribute to cancer development.
Oliver Smithies, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s first full-time faculty member to win a Nobel Prize and a world-renowned giant in the field of gene targeting, passed away Tuesday, Jan. 10, at UNC Hospitals after a short illness. He was 91.