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Photo of Leslyn (Les) Hanakahi

Leslyn (Les) Hanakahi

Associate Professor, Biopharmaceutical Sciences

Department Affiliate, Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy

Contact Information

Rockford, IL 61107

Phone: (815) 395-5924

Fax: (815) 395-5743

Lab Phone: (815) 395-5907


  • PhD, Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, CT, 1996
  • BS, Biology, University of Hawaii, Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1990

Research Lab Summary

Dr. Hanakahi’s laboratory studies the role of DNA double-strand break repair in oncogenesis, development of DNA repair factors as targets for new cancer therapies, and the potential for use of DNA repair factors as predictors of therapeutic response in personalized medicine.

Professional Organizations

  • Education sub-committee co-chair; Diversity sub-committee co-chair, Evironmental Mutagen and Genomics Society

Awards and Honors

  • 2014, Teacher of the Semester, P1 class
  • 2013, Vahlteich Research Scholar

Intellectual Contributions

Journal Article

  • L , Summerlin MB, Nitiss K, Nitiss JL, Hanakahi . "TDP1 is required for efficient non-homologous end joining in human cells". DNA Repair. 2017;60:40-49.
  • Jiao C, Summerlin MB, Bruzik KS, Hanakahi L. "Synthesis of Biotinylated Inositol Hexakisphosphate To Study DNA Double-Strand Break Repair and Affinity Capture of IP6-Binding Proteins.". Biochemistry. 2015;54(41):6312-22. doi:10.1021/acs.biochem.5b00642.
  • Heo J, Li J, Summerlin MB, Hays A, Katyal S, McKinnon PJ, Nitiss KC, Nitiss JL, Hanakahi L. "TDP1 promotes assembly of non-homologous end joining protein complexes on DNA.". DNA Repair. 2015;30:28-37. doi:10.1016/j.dnarep.2015.03.003.
  • Slavoff SA, Heo J, Budnik BA, Hanakahi L, Saghatelian A. "A human short open reading frame (sORF)-encoded polypeptide that stimulates DNA end joining.". The Journal of biological chemistry. 2014;289(16):10950-7. doi:10.1074/jbc.C113.533968.
  • Hanakahi L. "Effect of the inositol polyphosphate InsP(6) on DNA-PK-dependent phosphorylation.". Molecular cancer research : MCR. 2011;9(10):1366-76. doi:10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-11-0230.
  • Jayaram S, Gilson T, Ehrlich ES, Yu XF, Ketner G, Hanakahi L. "E1B 55k-independent dissociation of the DNA ligase IV/XRCC4 complex by E4 34k during adenovirus infection.". Virology. 2008;382(2):163-70. doi:10.1016/j.virol.2008.08.045.
  • Cheung JC, Salerno B, Hanakahi L. "Evidence for an inositol hexakisphosphate-dependent role for Ku in mammalian nonhomologous end joining that is independent of its role in the DNA-dependent protein kinase.". Nucleic acids research. 2008;36(17):5713-26. doi:10.1093/nar/gkn572.
  • Jayaram S, Ketner G, Adachi N, Hanakahi L. "Loss of DNA ligase IV prevents recognition of DNA by double-strand break repair proteins XRCC4 and XLF.". Nucleic acids research. 2008;36(18):5773-86. doi:10.1093/nar/gkn552.
  • Hanakahi L. "2-Step purification of the Ku DNA repair protein expressed in Escherichia coli.". Protein expression and purification. 2007;52(1):139-45. doi:10.1016/j.pep.2006.10.002.
  • Smeaton MB, Miller PS, Ketner G, Hanakahi L. "Small-scale extracts for the study of nucleotide excision repair and non-homologous end joining.". Nucleic acids research. 2007;35(22):e152. doi:10.1093/nar/gkm974.