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Ryan Barnes, PhD

Ryan Barnes
Assistant Professor, Cancer Biology

Professional Background

Dr. Ryan Barnes is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He is a member of the Department of Cancer Biology and the University of Kansas Cancer Center. Dr. Barnes studied telomeres and oxidative stress as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Center where he received both an NIH F32 and K99/R00 from the NIA and NIEHS respectively. Prior he obtained his Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine studying DNA replication stress and DNA polymerases. His primary research is now focused on the impact of oxidative stress on DNA replication and genome stability in the context of both cancer and aging.

Education and Training
  • PhD, Biomedical Science, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA
  • Post Doctoral Fellowship, DNA Damage and Telomeres, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA



Excess reactive oxygen/nitrogen species, or oxidative stress, is a ubiquitous condition humans experience that can damage the entire cell. Importantly, oxidative stress damages DNA resulting in numerous lesions that can halt DNA replication and increase mutagenesis. Oxidative stress emanates from various endogenous sources(metabolism, inflammation, etc.) but also exogenous environmental sources such as pollution, smoking, and solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR), arguably the most universal source of oxidative stress and DNA damage humans encounter. 8-oxo-deoxyguaine (8oxoG) is one of the principle adducts generated by oxidative stress, and while well studied in vitro, is historically difficult to investigate in cells since the agents used to produce it (UVA, hydrogen peroxide, etc.) also generate other DNA adducts, strand-breaks, and damage lipids and proteins throughout the cell. Our group has developed and published on a novel fluorogen activated peptide (FAP) which can bind malachite green photosensitizer dyes and when excited with far-red light, specifically produces singlet oxygen. Singlet oxygen is known to have a short half-life and reacts rapidly with guanine to form 8oxoG.

The goal of the Barnes lab is to use a combination of chemoptogenetic tools and controlled UVR exposures to understand the impact of environmental oxidative stress in the context of cancer and aging. UVR produces oxidative stress through singlet oxygen, but also directly damages DNA and other molecules in the cell. By comparing the FAP systems to UVR, we can understand how DNA replication and genome stability are impacted by this environmental source of oxidative stress in the context of both cancer and aging.

  • Barnes, Ryan., P., de Rosa, Mariarosaria, Thosar, Sanjana., A., Detwiler, Ariana., C., Roginskaya, Vera, Van Houten, Bennett, Bruchez, Marcel., P., Stewart-Ornstein, Jacob, Opresko, Patricia., L.. 2022. Telomeric 8-oxo-guanine drives rapid premature senescence in the absence of telomere shortening. NATURE STRUCTURAL & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY, 29 (7), 639-+
  • Barnes, Ryan., P., Tsao, Wei-Chung, Moldovan, George-Lucian, Eckert, Kristin., A.. 2018. DNA Polymerase Eta Prevents Tumor Cell-Cycle Arrest and Cell Death during Recovery from Replication Stress. CANCER RESEARCH, 78 (23), 6549-6560
  • Barnes, Ryan., P., Hile, Suzanne., E., Lee, Marietta., Y., Eckert, Kristin., A.. 2017. DNA polymerases eta and kappa exchange with the polymerase delta holoenzyme to complete common fragile site synthesis. DNA REPAIR, 57, 1-11
  • Barnes, Ryan., P., Fouquerel, Elise, Opresko, Patricia., L.. 2019. The impact of oxidative DNA damage and stress on telomere homeostasis. MECHANISMS OF AGEING AND DEVELOPMENT, 177, 37-45
  • Kumar, Namrata, Theil, Arjan., F., Roginskaya, Vera, Ali, Yasmin, Calderon, Michael, Watkins, Simon., C., Barnes, Ryan., P., Opresko, Patricia., L., Pines, Alex, Lans, Hannes, Vermeulen, Wim, Van Houten, Bennett. 2022. Global and transcription-coupled repair of 8-oxoG is initiated by nucleotide excision repair proteins. NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 13 (1)