Dr. Belancio was born in Berlin, Germany. She obtained her BS and MS degrees in Cytology and Genetics from Novosibirsk State University in Novosibirsk, Russia. She studied Medical Genetics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She received her doctoral degree in Molecular and Cellular biology from the Department of Epidemiology at Tulane University in New Orleans. She did her postdoctoral training with Dr. Prescott Deininger at Tulane University. She has been a faculty member in the Department of Structural and Cellular Biology, Tulane School of Medicine since 2008 and is a member of the Tulane Center for Aging. Dr. Belancio’s primary research interests are focused on genetic instability and cellular responses associated with the activity of mammalian retroelements. She is studying molecular mechanisms controlling the expression of and the damage from these elements in normal and cancer cells. Dr. Belancio is a member of the Tulane Center for Aging.
Dr. Victoria P. Belancio, Associate Professor of Structural and Cellular Biology at Tulane School of Medicine, is broadly recognized for her original contributions to understanding the impact of retrotransposons on genome stability and disease. Her first major discovery involved identification of novel mechanisms attenuating expression and damage caused by LINE-1 retrotransposons. She was a key contributor to the establishment of somatic expression of LINE-1 in many normal human tissues, a finding that has triggered a broad recognition of somatic LINE-1 damage and its relevance to human disease and aging. Through her ongoing interest in understanding regulation of LINE-1 expression and activity in vivo, Dr. Belancio discovered an important connection between LINE-1 retrotransposons and melatonin signaling, a major component of the host circadian system. Using a unique tissue-isolated model of human cancer, her lab identified that nocturnal melatonin suppresses LINE-1 expression and retrotransposition through the activation of the G-protein coupled receptor melatonin receptor 1 (MT1). This unforeseen in vivo relationship between LINE-1-induced damage and melatonin signaling strongly supports that experiencing light exposure at night, which disrupts nocturnal melatonin production, may upregulate LINE-1 activity. Thus, shift workers and urban residents, who are continually subjected to artificial light at night, as well as the elderly, who experience age-dependent loss of nocturnal melatonin production, may have a higher risk of cancer due to the increase in genomic instability associated with LINE-1 damage. This finding was recognized by the U. S. National Academy of Science and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation 18th annual German-American Kavli Frontiers of Science symposium in Potsdam, Germany.
U.S. Patent application 60/445,945 (filed on February 7, 2003).
Deininger, Prescott L. and Victoria Perepelitsa Belancio
Entitled:Mammalian Retrotransposable Elements
U. S. Patent application 14/943,942 (filed on November 14, 2015, approved 2019).
Sokolowski Mark and Belancio Victoria P.
Entitled: ANTIBODIES THAT INHIBIT LONG INTERSPERSED ELEMENT-1 RETROTRANSPOSON ENDONUCLEASE
Current and former trainees:
2019-present - Qianhui Du, Tulane BMS graduate student
2017-present - Ben Freeman, Tulane BMS graduate student
2015-2017 - May Chynces, Graduate student Multidisciplinary Program in Aging
2014-2017 - Madison Smither, Ben Franklin High School intern (Jefferson Scholar, The University of Virginia)
2012-2017 - Dr. Mark Sokolowski, Tulane BMS graduate student (postdoc at Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN)
2013-2016 - Dr. Claiborne M. Christian, Tulane BMS graduate student (postdoc at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN)
2009- 2016 - Dr. Kristine Kines, postdoc (scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA)
2013-2014 - James Flotken, Tulane undergraduate student intern (Tulane School of Medicine)
2011-2012 - Lakshya Bajaj, Hayward Human Genetics master student (graduate student at Baylor College of Medicine Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences)
2009-2010 - Angela Liu, Environmental Health Science master student (Ph.D. program in epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
COMET (Consortium of Transposable Elements at Tulane)
Tulane Cancer Center
Tulane Circadian Cancer Biology Group
Tulane Center for Aging
Tulane Cancer Center Program Member
Only a small proportion of the human genome actually codes for proteins, begging the question of what the rest of our genetic material actually does. Human retrotransposons, long dismissed as inert repetitive sequences of "junk DNA," are quite active and can profoundly influence our genomes. Our lab studies one type of these sequences, termed Long Interspersed Element 1 (LINE1 or L1 for short). Through the use of its two proteins...
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Chronobiology and rhythms in relation to health, ageing and longevity. Edited by Belancio VP., Hill SM, and Jazwinski SM. Volume V in Healthy Ageing and Longevity series, Springer, series editor Rattan S. (2017)
Selected Invited Talks: