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July 26, 2022

Noted Cancer Researcher to Chair UVA Biochemistry Department

The School of Medicine has recruited award-winning cancer researcher and educator Anja Katrin Bielinsky, PhD, to lead its Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. She succeeds Professor David Auble, who has served as interim chair since March of 2021. 

“We are excited to welcome Professor Bielinsky to UVA,” said Melina R. Kibbe, MD, the dean of the UVA School of Medicine and chief health affairs officer for UVA Health. “Her work in the field of DNA replication has been extremely impactful, and we were equally impressed by her as an outstanding leader and consummate educator. She has the knowledge, experience and vision to build on the strengths of an already strong department. As soon as we spoke with her, we knew she was the right choice.”

Bielinsky comes to UVA from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where she is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics. In addition, she serves as associate dean for foundational science & gender equity at the University of Minnesota Medical School and associate director for basic shared resources at Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota. She also serves as a member of the Masonic Cancer Center’s cabinet and as a member of the medical school’s research council.

Bielinsky is a longtime leader of the Genetic Mechanisms Program at Masonic Cancer Center and a longtime member of the center’s Basic Science Council. She previously served as interim associate dean for research and graduate education at the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences. She also has served as director of graduate studies for the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics.

An expert in DNA replication, Bielinsky has authored a long list of peer-reviewed research publications that have shed light on how errors in DNA replication contribute to the development of cancer and other diseases.  Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, American Cancer Society, and Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of America, among others.

“Professor Bielinsky’s credentials as an academic researcher are impeccable,” said K. Craig Kent, MD, chief executive officer of UVA Health and executive vice president for health affairs at UVA. “Her work has provided important insights into the fundamental causes of cancer. But she has also demonstrated a deep commitment to mentorship, leadership and collaboration throughout her career. She will be an asset to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and its outstanding faculty.”

Bielinsky earned her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and PhD from Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany. She did her postdoctoral training at Brown University before joining the University of Minnesota.

“I am thrilled to join the UVA family and deeply grateful to everyone involved in the search,” Bielinsky said. “This is a wonderful opportunity, and I am looking forward to working with faculty, staff and trainees to take the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics to new heights.”

Bielinsky will join UVA on Nov. 15.

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