William S. Dynan, PhD


Department of Radiation Oncology Emory University School of Medicine

Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar

Georgia Research Alliance


Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University



  • William S. Dynan, PhD, is researching the repair of radiation-induced DNA damage.

  • His research affects cancer diagnosis and treatment because DNA repair is a principal source of treatment resistance, and by understanding and manipulating repair pathways, he hopes to increase the efficacy of radiotherapy.

  • Dr. Dynan's top research accomplishments include the isolation of the first human protein that directs expression of specific genes, for which he received an Emory Millipub award in 2012, and a series of contributions to understanding the biochemistry of non homologous end joining pathway of DNA repair.

  • Dr. Dynan is a member of the Cancer Genetics and Epigenetics research program at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.


Dr. Dynan is a nucleic acid biochemist and molecular biologist. Notable career achievements include the discovery of the first human promoter-selective transcription factor, Sp1 (in the 1980s), and the discovery that Ku protein functions as the regulatory subunit of the DNA-dependent protein kinase (in the 1990s). The latter led to the laboratory’s current research in DNA repair and radiation biology. Using biochemical complementation approaches similar to those that identified Sp1 and the regulatory subunit of DNA-PK, the laboratory more recently identified a complex of human RNA binding proteins that functions directly in DNA repair. They have now established genetic systems for studying the role of these proteins in the DNA damage response in cells and mice. In other projects, the laboratory is screening for inhibitors of DNA repair for use as clinical radiosensitizers and investigating how high charge and energy particles influence cancer risk. The laboratory is also part of a multi-investigator NIH Nanomedicine Center that is designing validating a set of technologies that harness the DNA repair machinery to correct single gene disorders, with a focus on sickle cell disease.


Dr. Dynan received his BS in Life Sciences from Massachusetts Inst of Technology, Cambridge, Massachussets. He received his PhD in Oncology from University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. He conducted his postodoctoral training in Biochemistry at University of California, Berkeley, CA.


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