Dr. Barbara van Loon

Research interests

DNA and chromatin integrity in developmental disorders

In both normal and cancer cells, numerous lethal and mutagenic DNA lesions are formed upon exposure to endogenous and exogenous damaging agents. The estimated steady-state level of endogenous DNA lesions in mammalian cells is high, about 20’000 lesions per cell per day, majority of which represent DNA base damages. An increase in the amount of DNA base damages has been tightly associated with aging, cancer development, as well as onset of different neurological diseases. To maintain the integrity of genetic information organized within chromatin, cells need to faithfully bypass DNA lesions by engaging specialized DNA polymerases and/or initiating DNA repair processes. The aim of our research is to identify different cellular factors that ensure efficient response to DNA damaging agents by influencing the activity of specialized DNA polymerases as well as DNA repair proteins.

Though many human diseases, such as neurological disorders and cancer, have been correlated with accumulation of damaged DNA bases, only limited amount of data describes possible mechanism through which these lesions accumulate and consequently contribute to onset and progression of pathological conditions. Our research focuses on exploring the importance of specialized DNA polymerases and DNA repair proteins in onset and progression of different diseases in particular developmental disorders. By using latest technologies as well as organoid culture systems, we aim at identifying pathomechanisms that contribute to developmental disorders and could potentially serve as basis for evolution of novel therapies.


As of March 2016, Dr. Barbara van Loon is Associate Professor (Onsager fellow) at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology in Trondheim.

You can contact her at:
A/ Prof. Barbara van Loon
Norwegian University for Science and Technology
Department of Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine
Laboratory Center, 5th floor East wing
Erling Skjalgssons gt 1
7491 Trondheim
Email: barbara.v.loon@ntnu.no