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Akash Gunjan Ph.D.

Akash Gunjan Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Main Campus

Job Description

Dr. Gunjan is a research scientist trying to understand how chromatin structure and its components such as histones contribute to the maintenance of genomic stability, especially in response to DNA damage. Genomic instability is a hallmark of cancer cells, and Dr. Gunjan’s research will improve our understanding of the basic mechanisms underlying cancer. Apart from research, Dr.Gunjan is involved in teaching various graduate level courses that draw upon his expertise in the fields of molecular biology, biochemistry and genetics. Dr. Gunjan also facilitates small group sessions in Medical Biochemistry and Genetics, Microanatomy, Microbiology, Pathology, Pharmacology and Physiology for first and second year medical students.


After finishing college in India, Dr. Gunjan moved to the United States to obtain his Ph.D. degree in biochemistry at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He then moved to London, England, to carry out his post-doctoral research work at Cancer Research UK. Dr. Gunjan has around 20 years of experience in the field of chromatin structure and function and about 15 years of experience in the area of DNA damage and repair. He joined the faculty of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Florida State University College of Medicine as an Assistant Professor in March 2005. He was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in August 2013.


1991 – 1994 B.Sc. Nizam College, Hyderabad, India. Triple major – Genetics, Chemistry and Zoology

1994 – 1999 Ph.D. Department of Biochemistry, University of Mississippi Medical Center, USA

2000 – 2004 Post-doctoral Fellow, Cancer Research UK, United Kingdom


Departmental committees

1.) Departmental Graduate Student Recruitment Committee (2006 - 2007)

2.) Departmental Graduate Admissions Committee (2006 - 2007)

3.) Departmental Graduate Program Committee (2006 – 2010)

4.) Departmental Faculty Search Committee (2006 – 2010)

5.) Departmental Promotion and Tenure Committee (2006 – 2009)

6.) Search Committee for the Rodger’s chair (2006 – 2009)

7.) Departmental Core Lab Faculty Users Committee (2006 – 2010; 2013 - present)

8.) Departmental Executive committee (2007 – 2009)

9.) Ad hoc committee for organizing the departmental seminar series for spring 2007 and again in 2013 - 2014

10.) Departmental Space Committee (2010 – 2012)

College of Medicine committees

1.) College of Medicine Medical Student Admissions Committee (2006 – 2009; 2013 - present)

2.) Ad hoc appeals committee to evaluate the decisions of the College of Medicine Student Evaluation & Promotion Committee (2008)

3.) Biomedical Sciences Chair Search Committee (2008 – 2009)


Nominated to Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, USA, 1996.

National Dean’s List student, USA, 1996-1997.

Awarded the Dean's Award for the Most Outstanding Ph.D. Student, University of Mississippi Medical Center, USA, May 2000.

Awarded the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (UK) post-doctoral fellowship (March 2000 - March 2003).

First Indian citizen to be awarded the prestigious European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) long-term post-doctoral fellowship (January 2001 - December 2002).

Awarded the Cancer Research UK post-doctoral fellowship (January 2003 - March 2005).

Awarded the 2004 Kirsten-Hardiman Redon Prize for his paper in Cell (Vol.115, pages 537-549) which "shows outstanding research novelty and contributes to advancing our knowledge of the causes and treatment of cancer".

Ranked among the top 12 candidates for the 2004 European Cell Signaler of the Year Award.

Awarded the prestigious 5-year David Phillips Career Development Fellowship from BBSRC, UK, which he had to turn down due to his move to Florida State University (June 2004-2009).

Received the award for Outstanding Junior Faculty Researcher 2009-2010, Florida State University College of Medicine.


American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Radiation Research Society

Research Focus

In eukaryotes, the genomic material in the form of DNA is packaged with the help of highly basic histone proteins into a nucleoprotein structure called chromatin. Subtle defects in chromatin or changes in histone levels affect chromosome stability, DNA damage sensitivity and viability of cells. Hence, a proper chromatin structure is vital for preventing genomic instability, which is a characteristic of human cancer cells. The long-term goal of our laboratory is to understand how histones and chromatin structure contribute to the maintenance of genomic stability in the presence and absence of DNA damage, and how these processes may help prevent cancer. Our initial efforts are directed mainly towards the study of chromatin dynamics in the context of DNA damage and repair using live cell imaging, biochemical and molecular tools in model systems such as the budding yeast and cultured human cells.


Singh, R., Burkhart, S., Kabbaj, M-H., & Gunjan, A. (2013). The tumor suppressor CHK2 regulates histone protein levels in human cells. EMBO Reports. (Under revision)

Gajjalaiahvari, U.R., Villeneuve, V., Kabbaj, M-H., Gharib, M., Thibault, P., Verreault, A., Gunjan, A., and Paik, J. (2013). Checkpoint kinases repress histone gene transcription in response to genotoxic agents that impede replication. PLoS Biology. (Under revision)

Liang, D., Burkhart, S., Kabbaj, M-H., & Gunjan, A. (2012). Histone dosage regulates DNA damage sensitivity in a checkpoint independent manner via the homologous recombination pathway. Nucleic Acids Research, 40: 9604-9620.

Singh, R., Gonzalez, M., Kabbaj, M-H., & Gunjan, A. (2012). Novel E3 ubiquitin ligases that regulate histone protein levels in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. PLOS One, 7: e36295.

Hollis, F., Duclot, F., Gunjan, A., & Kabbaj, M. (2011). Individual differences in the effect of social defeat on anhedonia and histone acetylation in the rat hippocampus. Hormones & Behavior, 59: 331-7.

Singh, R. K., & Gunjan, A. (2011). Histone tyrosine phosphorylation comes of age. Epigenetics, 6: 153-60.

Hollis, F., Wang, H., Dietz, D., Gunjan, A., & Kabbaj, M. (2010). The effects of repeated social defeat on long-term depressive-like behavior and short-term histone modifications in the hippocampus in male Sprague-Dawley rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 211: 69-77.

Gunjan, A., & Singh, R. K. (2010). Epigenetic therapy: targeting histones and their modifications in human disease. Future Medicinal Chemistry, 2: 543-8.

Singh, R. K., Liang, D., Gajjalaiahvari, U. R., Kabbaj, M. H., Paik, J., & Gunjan, A. (2010). Excess histone levels mediate cytotoxicity via multiple mechanisms. Cell Cycle, 9: 4236-44.

Morillo-Huesca. M., Muñoz-Centeno, M.C., Singh, R.K., Reddy, G.U., Oreal, V., Liang, D., Maya, D., Gunjan, A., Géli, V., and Chávez, S. (2010). Accumulation of transcription-evicted histones induces a CLN3-dependent cell cycle delay in G1. PLOS Genetics, 6: e1000964.

Singh, R.K., Kabbaj, M.M., Paik, J., and Gunjan, A. (2009). Histone levels are regulated by phosphorylation and ubiquitylation dependent proteolysis. Nature Cell Biology, 11: 925-33.

Singh, R.K., Paik, J., and Gunjan, A. (2009). Generation and management of excess histones during the cell cycle. Frontiers in Bioscience, 14: 3145-58.

Gunjan, A., Paik J., and Verreault, A. (2006). The emergence of regulated histone proteolysis. Current Opinion in Genetics and Development. 16: 112-118.

Gunjan, A., Paik, J. and Verreault, A. (2005). Regulation of histone synthesis and nucleosome assembly. Biochimie, 87: 625-635.

Gunjan, A., and Verreault, A. (2003). A Rad53 kinase-dependent surveillance mechanism that regulates histone protein levels in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Cell, 115: 537-549.

Gunjan, A., and Brown, D. T. (2001). Modulation of core histone acetylation by linker histone stoichiometry in vivo. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 276(5): 3635-3640.

Misteli, T., Gunjan, A., Hock, R., Bustin, M., and Brown, D. T. (2000). Dynamic binding of histone H1 to chromatin in living cells. Nature, 408: 877-881.

Gunjan, A., and Brown, D. T. (1999). Overproduction of H1 histone variants in vivo increases basal and hormone-induced activity of the mouse mammary tumor virus promoter. Nucleic Acids Research, 27(16): 3355-3363.

Gunjan, A., Alexander, B. T., Sittman, D. B., and Brown, D. T. (1999). Effects of H1 histone variant overexpression on chromatin structure. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 274(53): 37950-37956.

Brown, D. T., Gunjan, A., Alexander, B. T., and Sittman, D. B. (1997). Differential effect of H1 variant overproduction on gene expression is due to differences in the central globular domain. Nucleic Acids Research, 25(24): 5003-5009.