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Jill Dowen, PhD, is a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member investigating the function of DNA loops involving genes and their regulatory elements.

Associate Professor, Biochemistry and Biophysics
Associate Director, Curriculum in Genetics & Molecular Biology
UNC-Chapel Hill
Cancer Genetics

Area of Interest

Research in the lab investigates the link between genome organization and gene expression. We seek to understand how the looping of DNA impacts the expression of genes within a cell and how dynamic changes are brought about during development and disease. We use embryonic stem cells and functional genomics approaches to study the mechanisms of transcriptional regulation and control of chromosome architecture.

Since many types of human disease, including a variety of cancers, can be considered to arise from a loss of cellular identity, identifying the mechanisms that regulate proper gene expression programs is important for many aspects of human health. Furthermore, a lot of human variation occurs within regulatory elements and is thought to be responsible for the varying disease-associated risks observed across a population. We seek to identify the cancers that result from perturbed chromosome structure and understand the underlying disease mechanisms in order to inform more effective and targeted therapies for patients. To gain insight into the role of genome organization in healthy cells and cancer cells, we are developing models in a variety of mammalian cell lines to study alterations in chromosome structure and gene expression programs.

FInd publications on PubMed

Awards and Honors

  • National Academies Scientific Teaching Fellow, 2017
  • Kimmel Scholar, Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research, 2016
  • Whitehead Institute Postdoctoral Association (WIPDA) Education Award, 2012
  • International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) Travel Award, 2012
Headshot of Jill Dowen.
  • Phone Number

    (919) 962-8132 (Office Phone)

  • Address

    3360 Genome Sciences Building

    250 Bell Tower Drive

    CB #7100

    Chapel Hill, NC 27599