Board of Scientific Advisors welcomes new members

June 27, 2020
Agata Smogorzewska and Martin Roussel will join the BSA July 1, 2020

The Jane Coffin Childs Fund is pleased to welcome two new members to the Board of Scientific Advisors. The organization would also like to thank Brenda Schulman for her service to the organization, as she has completed her four year term on the BSA.

New BSA member Dr. Agata Smogorzewska, associate professor at The Rockefeller University, studies how DNA is damaged and repaired during DNA replication. She has explored the repair of DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICLs) that covalently link two strands of DNA and preclude proper replication and transcription. She also studies rare genetic diseases including Fanconi anemia and karyomegalic interstitial nephritis, which are characterized by abnormal ICL repair. “Our ongoing studies aim to identify new genes, determine their role in DNA ICL repair, and illuminate the molecular pathogenesis of these diseases, including development of bone marrow failure, leukemia, squamous cell carcinoma, and kidney failure,” she writes on her website. “We also develop mouse models to investigate the in vivo consequences of deficiencies in DNA repair.”

Recently, she initiated studies to understand how the replication machinery responds to what is commonly called “replication stress,” any situation that impedes normal movement of the replication fork.  The goal is to understand events that unfold at the fork in order to produce daughter cells without inducing genome instability.

About joining the BSA, she says, “I am excited to join the JCC Scientific Board of Advisors to help select the next group of bold leaders in diverse scientific fields. As scientists, they will have oversized impact on our society, and it is my privilege to support them through their budding careers.”


Martine Roussel, a member of the Department of Tumor Cell Biology and co-leader of the Cancer Biology Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, also joins the BSA this year. Roussel, who was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2019, studies molecular oncology and cell cycle control, including the tumor suppressor pathway Arf/Mdm2/p53 in cancer, positive and negative regulation in brain development and cancer, genes and microRNAs in brain tumors, G1 progression and G1/S control, and the role of the BMP-Atohnal signaling pathway in development and tumorigenesis. She has developed mouse models of human brain cancers to conduct pre-clinical trials with novel targeted therapies and contributed to treatment strategies for pediatric medulloblastoma, the most common malignant pediatric brain tumor.

She joined St. Jude in 1983 as a research associate. Along with being a mentor and supervisor for dozens of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, Roussel holds two patents; has organized scientific meetings around the globe; and serves on several editorial and scientific advisory boards. In 2017, she was named the St. Jude Mentor of the Year, and in 2011, she was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology at the University of Lille in France, and she was raised in Cameroon, Guinea, Mali and Gabon.