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Andy Andrews, PhD, Joins Fox Chase's Cancer Biology Research Program

PHILADELPHIA (October 21, 2010) – Andy Andrews, PhD, has joined Fox Chase Cancer Center as an assistant professor in the Cancer Biology Program.  Andrews comes to Fox Chase after concluding a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado in the lab of HHMI Investigator Dr. Karolin Luger, PhD.  His area of focus is the field of epigenetics, which deals with changes in gene expression controlled by mechanisms outside of the underlying DNA sequence.

“I have a diverse educational background that has broadened my view of science and provided me with many different perspectives and skill sets for approaching difficult, fundamental questions in cancer biology,” Andrews says.  “Additionally, the human and physical resources currently available to me at Fox Chase make it an exceptional partner in this investigation.”

During his postdoctoral research, Andrews worked to unravel the biochemical and biophysical properties of nucleosomes, the basic unit of DNA packaging in cell nuclei, consisting of a segment of DNA wound around a histone protein core.  The process by which enzymes alter proteins in order to uncoil nucleosomes to permit access to the genes in the DNA is of vital importance to a host of key cellular functions.  The modifications to proteins that occur during this process are highly relevant to aging and cancer, as they play important roles in gene regulation, and certain “locking” and “unlocking” actions can spur the uncontrolled cell growth of cancer.  

In the Luger lab, Andrews developed a method to measure the thermodynamic qualities of the nucleosome, an accomplishment which had been hitherto impossible.  Through this experimental approach, he was able to gain a better understanding of how and where modifications to this structure occur.

In his lab at Fox Chase, Andrews will continue to expand his knowledge of how epigenetics regulates access to nucleosomes in order to impact gene expression.  He will examine how histones specifically are affected by enzymes, many of which are the target of promising anti-cancer drugs.

“As alterations to the epigenetics program of normal cells are likely a major mechanism in the development of tumors, Dr. Andrews’ studies are potentially highly translational,” says Jonathan Chernoff, MD, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at Fox Chase.

Andrews earned his PhD in Biological Chemistry from the University of Michigan and his MS and BS in Microbiology from North Carolina State University.  At both institutions, he served an important role as a student mentor and graduate student instructor.

Andrews has given several invited talks on nucleosomal thermodynamics and his work on that and other topics has been published in journals including Molecular Cell, The Journal of Molecular Biology, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  He has also contributed entries to the Wiley Encyclopedia of Chemical Biology and the Handbook of RNA Biochemistry.


Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

Media inquiries only, please contact Diana Quattrone at 215-728-7784.

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