Associate Director for Translational Research
Mary-Ann Bjornsti, Ph.D., is the chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, the Newman H. Waters Chair of Clinical Pharmacology, program leader of cancer cell biology and Associate Director for Translational Research for the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Dr. Bjornsti earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from New York State University College at Cortland and her doctorate in genetics from the University of Minnesota. She completed a Fogarty Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, at the University of Basel in Switzerland before moving to Harvard University for a postdoctoral research fellowship in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology.
Invited internationally to discuss her research, Dr. Bjornsti focuses on methods of disrupting the function of the enzyme DNA topoisomerase I using the anti-tumor agent camptothecin. The enzyme allows a tumor cell to unfold its DNA so that it can replicate; Dr. Bjornsti investigates how camptothecin can prevent this unfolding.
Dr. Bjornsti chairs one of the National Cancer Institute’s initial review-group subcommittees. In addition, she has served as a member for the editorial board for the Journal of Biological Chemistry and is a board member of the Cancer Molecular Therapeutics Research Association.