Dr. Harris’s Bio

About Dr. Harris

Dr. Harris is a Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics, an Associate Director of the Institute of Molecular Virology, and a Member of the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus.

Dr. Harris has investigated mechanisms of mutation for over 20 years and has established a consistent track record of breakthrough research. First, as a PhD student with Susan Rosenberg at the University of Alberta, he discovered a novel mechanism of mutation in non-dividing E. coli with relevance to antibiotic resistance. Second, as a Postdoctoral Fellow with Michael Neuberger in Cambridge, he discovered the DNA deaminase activity of the APOBEC/AID family of enzymes and demonstrated their importance in adaptive immunity by antibody gene diversification and in innate immunity by retrovirus restriction.

As a Principal Investigator at the University of Minnesota since 2003, he has continued to push frontiers in the DNA deaminase fields by publishing nearly 100 manuscripts including many in Nature and other top journals. In particular, Dr. Harris and coworkers recently discovered a central role for APOBEC3B mutagenesis in breast cancer, and further showed that this mechanism is broadly relevant to many different tumor types (2013 Nature, Nature Genetics, and Cancer Research papers).

Dr. Harris runs a vigorous academic research laboratory with an array of projects focused on the roles of APOBEC3 enzymes in immunity and carcinogenesis. His laboratory utilizes a broad number of technical approaches, and collaborates across disciplines to address fundamental questions.