Molecular Biology Program

The Agnel Sfeir Lab



Agnel Sfeir
Agnel Sfeir, PhD


Chromosomes are the fundamental structural units of our genome. The Sfeir lab seeks to understand basic chromosome biology and how their mismanagement manifests in disease. Our research is focused on three major areas: telomere maintenance, nuclear DNA repair, and mitochondrial DNA replication and repair. A number of projects in the lab address fundamental questions related to telomere maintenance and how telomere dysfunction impacts cancer. In addition, we study an ancient yet error-prone DNA repair pathway, termed micro-homology mediated end-joining, and focus on polymerase theta, a key enzyme underlying mutagenic repair. Lastly, we investigate replication and repair of mitochondrial genomes and explore mitochondrial-nuclear crosstalk in response to mitochondrial DNA stress.

Research Projects


Tigano M, Vargas DC, Fu Y, Tremblay-Belzile S, and Sfeir A*. (2021) Nuclear sensing of mitochondrial DNA breaks enhances immune surveillance. Nature. Feb 24; online.

Mateos-GomezPA, GongF, NairN, MillerKM, Lazzerini-DenchiE, SfeirA*. (2015) Mammalian Polymerase Theta Promotes Alternative-NHEJ and Suppresses Recombination. Nature. Feb 12;518(7538):254-7.

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Agnel Sfeir

Agnel Sfeir, PhD


  • The Sfeir Lab investigates pathways that ensure genome fidelity and plasticity.
  • PhD, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Texas (2006)
  • Post-Doc, The Rockefeller University, New York (2011)


Lab Affilations


  • Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator Award
  • Human Frontier Science Program Young Investigator Award
  • V-Foundation Scholar
  • Pew-Stewart Scholar for Cancer Research
  • NIH Director’s New Innovator Award
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  • The David and Lucile Packard Foundation Award
  • Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators
  • Mallinckrodt Scholar Award