Mark Hall's Story

Mark Hall, PhD
Associate Professor, Biochemistry

What do beer and wine have in common with cancer research? Mark Hall and other scientists at PCCR are studying baker’s yeast, which is used to make bread, bear and wine, as a model to understand the basic principles of cell division control that are often defective in cancer.

“Amazingly, the process of cell division is mostly the same in species as different as humans and fungi,” Hall says. “Yeast are easy to grow and to manipulate genetically, and much of what we know about human cell division has come from pioneering studies using yeast.”

Hall says his research is a perfect fit with one of the primary missions of PCCR: to understand the biological basis for cancer formation.

“That essentially describes what my lab is interested in,” he says. “We look at what enzymes and cellular processes can contribute to cancer formation by destabilizing the genome when they become defective.”

Hall’s work can be applied to several areas of cancer detection and treatment, including the identification of diagnostic cancer biomarkers and therapeutic agents. For instance, his team has been studying ways to inhibit certain enzymes to sensitize cancer cells to certain chemotherapies.

Hall, who watched his father-in-law’s fatal fight with pancreatic cancer, says he hopes to help other patients who are fighting similar health battles.

“I hope to one day be able to say that I made an important contribution to our understanding of cancer, either through the discoveries in my lab or indirectly through the students I mentored,” Hall says.