Susan B. Olson, Ph.D., FACMG

Director, Cytogenetics Laboratory, Knight Diagnostic Laboratories

Oregon Health & Science University

Professor of Molecular and Medical Genetics, OHSU

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Olson earned her Ph.D. in medical genetics from OHSU and is certified by the American Board of Medical Genetics, with subspecialties in Clinical Cytogenetics.  Dr. Olson was elected to the founding board of directors for the American Cytogenetics Conference and is a Founding Fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics.  She joined the OHSU faculty in 1987 where she currently serves on the steering committee for the Program in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, the School of Medicine Curriculum Committee, the Oregon Stem Cell Oversight Committee and the OHSU Collaborative Research Leadership Group. 

Dr. Olson’s research interests include mechanisms of genomic instability and cancer.  In particular, the cancer predisposing syndrome Fanconi anemia, which is a recessive disorder of DNA repair that has the classic finding of chromosome breakage.  Dr. Olson is also Director of the OHSU Cytogenetics Research Service Laboratory which offers traditional and molecular cytogenetic analysis of human, mouse and other animals to investigators throughout the country.



Chromosome aberrations contribute significantly to human disease. Close collaboration between our clinical and research cytogenetics laboratories contributes to a better understanding of specific chromosome regions and chromosome abnormalities, in particular, their structure, origin, segregation, stability, contribution to fetal development and survival, and impact on clinical genetics, including cancer. In collaboration with other laboratories at OHSU, we have a specific focus on the molecular biology of Fanconi anemia, a recessive disorder of DNA repair which has the classic finding of chromosome instability. Investigation of all of the above areas requires utilization of the following state-of-the-art tools: high resolution chromosomes, multiple staining techniques, breakage analysis, sister chromatid exchange assays, metaphase and interphase fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and array comparative genomic hybridization.


  1. Hanlon Newell AE*, Hemphill A*, Akkari YMN, Hejna J, Moses RE, Olson SB:  Loss of homologous recombination or non-homologous end-joining leads to radial formation following DNA interstrand crosslink damage. *Co-First Authors. Cytogenet Genome Res, 121:174-180, 2008.
  2. Hejna J, Holtorf M, Hines J, Mathewson L, Hemphill A, Al-Dhalimy M, Olson SB, Moses RE:  Tip60 is required for DNA interstrand crosslink repair in the Fanconi anemia pathway. J Biol Chem, 283(15):9844-51, 2008.
  3. Hemphill AW, Bruun D, Thrun L, Akkari Y, Torimaru Y, Hejna K, Jakobs PM, Hejna J, Olson SB, Moses RE:  Mammalian SNM1 is required for genome stability. Mol Genet Metab., 94(1):38-45, 2008.
  4. Maslen CL, Babcock D, Redig JK, Kapeli K, Akkari YM, Olson SB:  CRELD2:Gene mapping, alternate splicing, and comparative genomic identification of the promoter region.  Gene, 382:11-120, 2006.
  5. Sampson JE, Ouhibi N, Lawce H, Patton PE, Battaglia DE, Burry KA, Olson SB. The role for preimplantation genetic diagnosis in balanced translocation carriers. Amer. J. Obstet. Gynecol. 190(6):1707-11, discussion 1711-3, 2004.
  6. Hanlon Newell AE, Akkari YMN, Torimaru Y, Rosenthal A, Reifsteck CA, Cox B, Grompe M, Olson SB:  Interstrand crosslink-induced radials form between non-homologous chromosomes, but are absent in sex chromosomes.  DNA Repair 3:535-542, 2004.

The Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University is a pioneer in the field of precision cancer medicine. The institute's director, Brian Druker, M.D., helped prove it was possible to shut down just the cells that enable cancer to grow. This breakthrough has made once-fatal forms of the disease manageable and transformed how cancer is treated. The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center between Sacramento and Seattle – an honor earned only by the nation's top cancer centers. It is headquarters for one of the National Cancer Institute's largest research collaboratives, SWOG, in addition to offering the latest treatments and technologies as well as hundreds of research studies and clinical trials.

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