Stephen West

DNA Recombination and Repair Laboratory

Our genetic material (DNA) is continually subjected to damage, either from endogenous sources such as reactive oxygen species that arise as by-products of oxidative metabolism, from the breakdown of replication forks during cell growth, or by agents in the environment such as ionising radiation or carcinogenic chemicals.

To cope with such damage, cells employ a variety of repair processes that are specialised to recognise different types of lesions in DNA. These repair systems are essential for the maintenance of genome integrity and for cancer avoidance.

The focus of our research is to determine the cellular mechanisms for repair and to define the cellular defects that lead to cancers and neurodegeneration, two common consequences of defective damage processing.


Figure. Conserved mechanism for the resolution of Holliday junctions. (Click to view larger image)

Selected publications

Blanco MG, Matos J, West SC. (2014). Dual control of Yen1 nuclease activity and cellular localization by Cdk and Cdc14 prevents genome instability. Molecular Cell 54, 94-106.

Shahid T, Soroka J, Kong EH, Malivert L, McIlwraith MJ, Pape T, West SC, Zhang X. (2014) Structure and mechanism of action of the BRCA2 breast cancer tumor suppressor. Nature Struct Mol Biol. 21, 962-968.

Wyatt HD, Sarbajna S, Matos J, West SC. (2013) Coordinated actions of SLX1-SLX4 and MUS81-EME1 for Holliday Junction resolution in human cells. Molecular Cell 52, 234-47

Matos J, Blanco MG, Maslen SL, Skehel JM, West SC. (2011) Regulatory control of the resolution of DNA recombination intermediates during meiosis and mitosis. Cell 147, 158-172

Wechsler T, Newman S, West SC. (2011) Aberrant chromosome morphology in human cells defective for Holliday junction resolution. Nature 471, 642-646

Stephen West
+44 (0)20 379 62071

  • Qualifications and History
  • 1977 PhD in Biochemistry, Newcastle University, UK
  • 1978 Research Associate, Department of Therapeutic Radiology, Yale University, USA
  • 1985 Established lab at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, UK (in 2002 the Imperial Cancer Research Fund became Cancer Research UK)
  • 2015 Group Leader, the Francis Crick Institute, London, UK