Penny Beuning
Penny Beuning, associate professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

by Emily Ashbolt, Biomedical Physics, 2017

For the past decade, Northeastern University Chemistry and Chemical Biology professor Penny Beuning has focused her research on cellular responses to DNA damage, specifically a family of DNA polymerases that deal with copying the damaged DNA. Her tireless work in this area of chemistry has earned her the Chemical Research in Toxicology Young Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society’s Division of Chemical Toxicology.

This award is given annually to a researcher who has had a major impact on research in chemical toxicology or a related field.

Beuning’s research has piqued the interest of her colleagues and peers alike due to the versatility of the DNA repair she’s investigating – it has links to a variety of applications, such as cancer treatment and antibiotic resistance.

Beuning was nominated for the Young Investigator Award by Dr. Graham Jones, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology professor and chair. “This is a highly competitive field,” commented Jones, who made reference to Penny’s many key contributions to the knowledge base of DNA damage and repair. “She is a role model academician and has an exemplary track record in training students in original research design.”

Beuning is thrilled with the accolade, but is quick to point out that much of her success comes from the amazing students she has in her lab. “It’s a reflection on them, really,” she explained. “My students do so much of the work, and I have been really lucky.”

The award will be presented at the American Chemical Society annual National Meeting, which takes place in Boston this August. As part of the Young Investigator award, Beuning will present a lecture on her work and organize a symposium to take place on August 16 Beuning’s symposium, titled Multiple Mechanisms of Resistance to DNA Damage, will feature scientists she has met throughout her career who focus on different areas of DNA damage. “They are people whose work I respect, who have influenced me, and from whom I have learned a lot.”

In addition to the Young Investigators Award, since joining the Northeastern faculty Penny has also been named an American Cancer Society Research Scholar and a Cottrell Scholar. Her work on regulation of these specialized DNA polymerases has also attracted a Career Award from the National Science Foundation.