Paul L. Modrich

Paul L. Modrich

Paul L. Modrich, Nobel Laureate in chemistry in Stockholm December 2015
Born Paul Lawrence Modrich
(1946-06-13) June 13, 1946
Raton, New Mexico, U.S.
Nationality United States
Fields DNA mismatch repair
Alma mater MIT, Stanford University (PhD)
Known for Clarification of cellular resistance to carcinogens
Notable awards
Paul L. Modrich

Paul Lawrence Modrich (born June 13, 1946) is an American biochemist, James B. Duke Professor of Biochemistry at Duke University and Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He received a Ph.D. degree in 1973 from Stanford University and a B.S. degree in 1968 from MIT. He is known for his research on DNA mismatch repair.[1] Modrich received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015, jointly with Aziz Sancar and Tomas Lindahl.[2][3]

Personal life

Paul Modrich presenting himself

Modrich was born on June 13, 1946, in Raton, New Mexico to Laurence and Margaret Modrich. He has a younger brother Dave.[4] His father was a biology teacher and coach for basketball, football and tennis at Raton High School where he graduated in 1964.[4] He is of Croatian descent; his paternal grandfather, and grandmother of Montenegrin descent, immigrated to the United States from Croatia.[5] Modrich married fellow scientist Vickers Burdett in 1980.[6]


Modrich became an assistant professor at the chemistry department of University of California, Berkeley in 1974.[7] He joined Duke University's faculty in 1976 and has been a Howard Hughes Investigator since 1995. He works primarily on strand-directed mismatch repair. His lab demonstrated how DNA mismatch repair serves as a copyeditor to prevent errors from DNA polymerase. Matthew Meselson previously proposed the existence of recognition of mismatches. Modrich performed biochemical experiments to study mismatch repair in E. coli.[8] They later searched for proteins associated with mismatch repair in humans.[1]

Dr. Modrich is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.


  1. 1 2 "Paul Modrich Awarded 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry". HHMI. HHMI. October 7, 2015. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
  2. Broad, William J. (October 7, 2015). "Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded to Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar for DNA Studies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
  3. Staff (October 7, 2015). "THE NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY 2015 - DNA repair – providing chemical stability for life" (PDF). Nobel Prize. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
  4. 1 2 Simonich, Milan (2015-10-08). "Childhood in Raton helped shape life of Nobel winner in chemistry". The Taos News. Retrieved 2016-10-09.
  5. Nenad Jarić Dauenhauer (October 26, 2015). "Nobelovac Modrich za tportal: Djed mi je bio Hrvat" [Nobel laureate Modrich for tportal: My grandfather was a Croat]. T-Hrvatski Telekom. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
  6. "For Paul Modrich, frenzy and failures yield truths". News & Observer. Retrieved 2016-10-09.
  7. "Paul Modrich - Biographical". Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  8. Su, SS; Modrich, P (July 1986). "Escherichia coli mutS-encoded protein binds to mismatched DNA base pairs.". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 83 (14): 5057–61. doi:10.1073/pnas.83.14.5057. PMID 3014530.

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