The major theme of our work relates to how DNA repair processes are disrupted in human cancers and how this can be exploited therapeutically. In particular, we have a long-standing focus on homologous recombination, a pathway often dysregulated in human cancers. Our research centers on improving our understanding of how homologous recombination executes its biological functions, including its role in replication-coupled repair. Furthermore, we have interest in the backup pathways needed to maintain cellular viability in the absence of recombination, with the ultimate goal of laying a foundation for the development of mechanism-inspired cancer therapeutics.
In addition to serving as Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology I serve as the clinical science leader on the MSK SPORE in Genomic Instability in Breast Cancer. As part of the programmatic research efforts in this SPORE our laboratory is involved in efforts to define DNA repair defects in breast cancer with greater reliability and resolution, and to personalize the treatment of breast cancer patients whose tumors display evidence of impaired homologous recombination.
- Backup DNA repair pathways in HR-deficient human cancers
- Replication-coupled DNA damage signaling and repair
- Mechanisms of recombination
Powell attended Oxford University, followed by the University of London for Medical School. During clinical oncology specialist training, he undertook studies in DNA double-strand break repair for his PhD thesis (Institute of Cancer Research, London). He moved to Harvard Medical School to be a fellow but got promoted to the faculty at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) soon afterwards. After 13 years at MGH and Harvard, he was appointed Professor and Head of Department at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2008, he was appointed Chair of Radiation Oncology and Member of Molecular Biology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
- 1976 Corpus Christi College Award Corpus Christi College, Oxford
- 1981 Rosenheim Award University College, London
- 1988 Rohan Williams Medal Royal College of Radiologists, U.K.
- 1990 E.S.T.R.O. VARIAN AWARD
- 2008 Elected Chair of 2008 Gordon Research Conference in Radiation Oncology
- 2010 Distinguished Teaching Award, Radiation Oncology, MSKCC
- 2014 Elected Fellow of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (FASTRO)
- 2023 Awarded the ASTRO Gold Medal