Richard D. Wood
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Richard D. Wood (born June 3, 1955 in Boulder, Colorado) is an American molecular biologist specializing in research on DNA repair and mutation. He is known for pioneering studies on nucleotide excision repair (NER), particularly for reconstituting the minimum set of proteins involved in this process, identifying proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) as part of the NER complex  and identifying mammalian repair polymerases .
In humans, mutations affecting the NER DNA repair pathway cause the disease xeroderma pigmentosum or XP. Normal UV and sunlight exposure generates DNA mutations (particularly pyrimidine dimers) in epidermal cells that must be continually repaired through NER. XP patients are particularly sensitive to sun exposure and generally must stay indoors during the day, using heavy sunscreens to prevent skin damage and susceptibility to skin cancer. NER occurs through a programmed set of steps that includes recognition of the damaged site (probably by sensing an unpaired bubble at the mutation site), nicking the DNA at upstream and downstream sites, excising the damaged DNA, then filling in the single-stranded DNA gap using a polymerase, with the opposite strand serving as a template for the proper sequence for the repair patch. Since multiple proteins are involved in NER, different XP patients may have different gene mutations. Cells having different NER gene mutations can complement each other, when the cells are fused together, to reestablish DNA repair since one cell line has an intact enzyme that is defective or missing in the other cell line. Thus, XP can be divided into complementation groups based on which enzyme is defective in the NER pathway . Wood and his colleagues reconstituted purified protein components based on the known defective enzymes from defined XP complementation groups to perform NER in vitro and define DNA repair at the molecular level .
Wood received his B.S. degree in Biology from Westminster College, Salt Lake City Utah (1975), his Ph.D. degree in Biophysics at the University of California, Berkeley (1977), and was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University from 1982 to 1985. He performed much of his work on NER at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, from 1985 to 2001 as postdoctoral fellow, Research Scientist, Senior Scientist, and Principal Scientist. He currently holds the Grady F. Saunders Distinguished Professorship in Molecular Biology in the Department of Carcinogenesis at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Science Park Research Division) in Smithville, Texas .
Wood is a jazz bassist (he was a music minor at Westminster College where his roommate at the time was the composer and orchestrator Geoff Stradling) and plays in local bands and together with his wife Enid Wood, a violinist, teacher and artist .
- Meyenburg Cancer Research Prize (1998)
- Fellow, Royal Society (1999)
- Richard M. Cyert Chair of Molecular Oncology, University of Pittsburgh 2001-2008
- Grady F. Saunders Distinguished Professorship in Molecular Biology, MD Anderson Cancer Center 2009-