Hai Dang Nguyen, Ph.D.

Hai Dang Nguyen

312 Church St SE
3-122 Nils Hasselmo Hall
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Dr. Nguyen is an EvansMDS Young Investigator, determining mechanisms and therapeutic strategies for Myelodysplastic syndrome patients harboring RNA splicing gene mutations. He is also a part of a multidisciplinary team in the functional genomics of solid tumors, launched by the Medical School and the Masonic Cancer Center to develop new technologies and models for understanding cancer heterogeneity. He received his B.A. degree from The College of Wooster, Ohio and Ph.D. degree from University of Minnesota in the laboratory of Dr. Anja-Katrin Bielinsky. He completed his postdoctoral research training in Dr. Lee Zou’s laboratory at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. 




DNA damage response in cancers, posttranslational modification (phosphorylation, ubiquitination), biochemistry, molecular biology. 


Awards & Recognition


  • Clinical & Translational Research Institute Pre-K Scholar Award (2020 - 2022)
  • EvansMDS Young Investigator Award, 2019-2022
  • Charles A. King Trust Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2017-2019 (declined)
  • NIH/NIDDK T32 Postdoctoral Fellow Training Grant, 2017-2019
  • Fund for Medical Discovery (FMD) Postdoctoral Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital, 2015
  • Frederic J. Bollum Award, University of Minnesota, 2010
  • AAAS/Science Program for Excellence in Science Award, 2009
  • CBS Outstanding Performance Award for Teaching Assistant, University of Minnesota, 2008
  • Merck Index Award, College of Wooster, 2006
  • Azimuth Scholar, College of Wooster, 2005


Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology

Faculty, MS and PhD Programs in Pharmacology

Faculty, PhD Program in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics

Preceptor, Life Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program (LSSURP)

Preceptor, Clinical & Translational Research Institute (CTSI) Pathways to Research Program (PREP)

Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center

PhD, University of Minnesota, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics

BA, The College of Wooster, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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Research Summary/Interests

In response to DNA damage from environmental and endogenous sources, cells activate an elaborate signaling network called DNA damage response (DDR). This response functions to preserve genomic integrity, which is critical for normal development and cancer prevention. The ATR kinase is a master regulator of a broad spectrum of DNA damage and replication problems.

Sensors of DNA Damage, Replication and Transcription Problems: Our recent studies revealed that ATR is not only important for sensing DNA damage and replication stress, but also to problems associated with transcription. R-loop, a transcription intermediate resulting from the formation of stable RNA:DNA hybrids and a displaced single-stranded DNA (ssDNA), is a major source of genomic instability. We found that ATR is activated by R-loops and plays a critical role in suppressing R-loop-induced genomic instability, thus uncovering a new function of ATR in maintaining genome integrity. The Nguyen laboratory will continue to dissect how ATR regulates R-loop resolution in cancers.

Cancer Genomics and Targeted Therapy: we found that the splicing factor mutations associated with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) induce R-loops and trigger an ATR response. Cells that express these splicing factor mutants are sensitive to ATR inhibitors, providing a new strategy to target R-loop response for the treatment of MDS and potentially other malignancies associated with RNA splicing mutations. The Nguyen laboratory will determine additional R-loop regulators in different cancer contexts to develop new therapeutic strategies in the future.

The Nguyen laboratory is currently developing small molecule probes, biochemical, cell biological and genetic approaches to investigate the underlying mechanisms of sensing and resolving R-loops in different cancers. Results obtained from these researches will provide molecular insight for the development of new targeted cancer therapeutic approaches. Interested applicants should have a PhD and/or MD degree with a strong background in either biochemistry, cell biology, functional genomics, or pharmacology. The laboratory accepts Master and PhD students through Department of Pharmacology program. 


View list of publications

Selected publications

  • Matos D, Zhang JM, Ouyang J, Nguyen HD, Genois M, and Zou L. ATR protects the Genome against R loops through a MUS81-Triggered Feedback Loop. (2020) Molecular Cell, 77(3):514-527
  • Nguyen HD, Zou L, and Graubert TA (2019) Targeting R-loop-associated ATR response in myelodysplastic syndrome. Oncotarget, 10(27)2581-82.
  • Nguyen HD*, Leong WY*, Li W, MJ Walter, L Zou, and Graubert TA (2018) Spliceosome Mutations in Myelodysplastic Syndrome Induce R Loop-Associated Sensitivity to ATR Inhibitor. Cancer Research, 78(18):5363-74. (Co-first author)
  • Kabeche L, Nguyen HD, Buisson R, Zou L. A Mitosis-specific and R-loop driven ATR pathway promotes faithful chromosome segregation. (2018) Science. 359(6371):108-114.
  • Nguyen HD*, Yadav T*, Giri S, Saez B, Graubert TA, and Zou L. Functions of Replication Protein A as a Sensor of R Loop and a Regulator of RNaseH1. (2017) Molecular Cell. 65(5):832-847. (*co-first author).
  • Yazinski SA, Comaills V, Buisson R, Genois MM, Nguyen HD, Ho CK, Todorova Kwan T, Morris R, Lauffer S, Nussenzweig A, Ramaswamy S, Benes CH, Haber DA, Maheswaran S, Birrer MJ, Zou L. ATR Inhibitors Overcome the Resistance of BRCA1-Deficient Cancer Cells to PARP Inhibition. (2017) Genes & Development. 31(3):318-332.
  • Shiotani B, Nguyen HD, Håkansson P, Maréchal A, Ho CK, Tse A, Tahara H, and Zou L. (2013) Two Distinct Modes of ATR Activation Orchestrated by Rad17 and Nbs1. Cell Reports. 3(5):1651-62.
  • Nguyen HD, Becker J, Thu, YM, Costanzo M, Koch EN, Smith S, Myung KJ, Myers CL, Boone C, and Bielinsky AK. Unligated Okazaki Fragments Induce PCNA ubiquitination and a Requirement for Rad59-Dependent Replication Fork Progression. (2013) PLoS ONE. 8(6):e66379.
  • Das-Bradoo S*, Nguyen HD*, and Bielinsky AK. Damage-specific modification of PCNA. (2010) Cell Cycle. 9(18):3674-9 (*co-first author).
  • Das-Bradoo S*, Nguyen HD*, Wood JL*, Ricke RM, Haworth JC, and Bielinsky AK. Defects in DNA Ligase I Trigger PCNA Ubiquitylation at Lys 107. (2010) Nature Cell Biology. 12(1):74-9 (*co-first author).