Superfund Research Program

September 2023

Jennifer Kay
Kay is now a research scientist at Silent Spring Institute. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Kay).

How the body repairs DNA damage following exposure to a chemical called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) can provide new insights for cancer treatment, according to Jennifer Kay, Ph.D. The former Massachusetts Institute of Technology SRP Center trainee presented her findings during the August 1 Wetterhahn Award Seminar.

Kay led a study that examined how mice with different levels of the enzyme AAG responded to NDMA exposures. A balanced repair pathway — just the right amount of AAG — is essential for disease-free survival, she noted.

“Screening for AAG activity in humans could allow us to identify people exposed to NDMA who may be at a greater risk of developing cancer,” Kay said. “This could help inform studies of both cancer treatment and prevention.”

Kay, who received the 2020 Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award, credits her work with SRP as driving her goal to expand the world of cancer research to better represent an array of environmental exposures.

To learn more, see the NIEHS Environmental Factor newsletter.