Gerald Smith, PhD

faculty member

Gerald Smith, PhD

Basic Sciences Division, Fred Hutch

Fax: 206.667.6497
Mail Stop: A1-162

Dr. Gerald “Gerry” Smith studies recombination, a process cells use to increase genetic diversity by swapping, or recombining, segments of DNA from the two copies of each chromosome we inherited from our parents. When this process goes wrong, it can lead to miscarriage, developmental disorders or cancer. Dr. Smith studies the molecules involved in this critical process, including those that help repair the DNA breaks that occur as chromosomes trade sections. Using yeast as a model system, he has identified and outlined the roles of many proteins that regulate this process, most of which have human counterparts. Dr. Smith has long studied the major mechanism by which bacteria repair breaks in their DNA that naturally occur during processes such as chromosome replication. This essential mechanism employs a complex enzyme called RecBCD that both unwinds DNA from a broken end and cuts it at special sites known as "hotspots" of recombination. His team has found inhibitors of RecBCD, which could be useful novel antibiotics because bacterial DNA is often broken when bacteria infect human cells. He hopes that a deeper understanding of these fundamental processes will help provide insights and compounds that can be used to improve human health.

Other Appointments & Affiliations

Affiliate Professor, Genome Sciences and Pathology
University of Washington School of Medicine


PhD, Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1970

BS, Microbiology, Cornell University, 1966

Research Interests

Recombination and DNA Break Repair: Mechanism and Control

Meiotic Recombination in S. pombe

DNA Break Repair in E. coli

Current Projects

Meiotic recombination in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe

The major (RecBCD) pathway of recombination in the bacterium Escherichia coli

Find a Clinical Trial

Dr. Smith in the News

Swing and a hit! RecB contacts RecC to repair DNA breaks

Science Spotlight - January 23, 2023

Is that a Chi site? How to fool a smart enzyme

Science Spotlight - August 17, 2020

How chromosomes find a happy medium

Hutch News - September 14, 2018

For the Media

The Media Relations team at Fred Hutch is available to assist members of the news media who would like to arrange interviews with faculty.

Email or call 206.667.2210