Dr. Priyanka Verma is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Cancer Biology, University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Verma is working under the mentorship of Dr. Roger A. Greenberg whose lab specializes in understanding the basic mechanisms of DNA repair that impact breast and ovarian cancer etiology and response to therapy. Dr. Verma received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Master’s degree in Biotechnology from the University of Lucknow, India and the University of Pune, India, respectively. She was awarded a gold medal for securing the first rank in her Master’s exam. She pursued her PhD in Biochemistry in Dr. Rajesh S. Gokhale’s laboratory at the National Institute of Immunology, India.
In the Greenberg lab, Dr. Verma’s research focuses on understanding how BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer cells rewire their DNA repair mechanisms to survive the functional loss of BRCA proteins. Understanding these compensatory pathways will help identify new genes that are synthetically lethal with BRCA-deficiency and will also reveal new mechanisms that confer resistance to poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors (PAPRi)-based targeted therapies. To understand these BRCA-independent DNA repair mechanisms, her research employs a unique model of alternative lengthening of telomeres, where DNA synthesis in response to DNA double-strand breaks occurs in a BRCA-independent manner, as well as various biochemical assays and powerful CRISPR/Cas9 genetic screening technology. This genetic screen is being performed in collaboration with Dr. Junwei Shi at UPenn, who pioneered the use of this technology to identify new drug targets in various cancer subtypes.