Rachel L. Flynn, PhD

Associate Professor, Pharmacology, Physiology & Biophysics

Rachel Flynn
72 E. Concord St Silvio Conte (K)


In the Laboratory of Genomic stability and Cancer Therapeutics we use a combination of biochemical and cell biological approaches to study the function of mammalian telomeres. Telomeres cap the ends of linear chromosomes and provide a molecular barrier for the human genome. Following each cell division, progressive telomere shortening erodes that barrier and compromises the stability of the genome. Critically short, or dysfunctional telomeres induce replicative senescence and/or cell death and ultimately, lead to cellular aging. Cancer cells, however, overcome the replicative senescence associated with critically short telomeres by exploiting mechanisms of telomere elongation. The focus of my lab is to understand the mechanisms regulating mammalian telomere maintenance and to understand how defects in this process contribute to premature aging and cancer progression. The hope is that these studies will allow us to gain the mechanistic insight necessary to define novel targets and/or strategies in the treatment of human disease.

Other Positions

  • Associate Professor, Hematology & Medical Oncology, Medicine, Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine
  • Peter Paul Career Development Professorship, Boston University
  • Member, BU-BMC Cancer Center, Boston University
  • Co-Director, Genome Science Institute, Boston University
  • Graduate Faculty (Primary Mentor of Grad Students), Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences


  • University of Massachusetts Medical School, PhD
  • Saint Michael's College, BS

Classes Taught

  • GMSMM703
  • GMSPM710


  • Published on 1/18/2024

    Mori JO, Keegan J, Flynn RL, Heaphy CM. Alternative lengthening of telomeres: mechanism and the pathogenesis of cancer. J Clin Pathol. 2024 Jan 18; 77(2):82-86. PMID: 37890990.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 9/13/2023

    Zamalloa LG, Pruitt MM, Hermance NM, Gali H, Flynn RL, Manning AL. RB loss sensitizes cells to replication-associated DNA damage after PARP inhibition by trapping. Life Sci Alliance. 2023 Dec; 6(12). PMID: 37704395.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 5/26/2023

    Reiss M, Keegan J, Aldrich A, Lyons SM, Flynn RL. The exoribonuclease XRN2 mediates degradation of the long non-coding telomeric RNA TERRA. FEBS Lett. 2023 Jul; 597(14):1818-1836. PMID: 37191774.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 5/5/2023

    Carson LM, Flynn RL. Highlighting vulnerabilities in the alternative lengthening of telomeres pathway. Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2023 Jun; 70:102380. PMID: 37149932.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 3/25/2023

    Zamalloa LG, Pruitt MM, Hermance NM, Gali H, Flynn RL, Manning AL. RB loss sensitizes cells to replication-associated DNA damage by PARP inhibition. bioRxiv. 2023 Mar 25. PMID: 36993348.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 9/20/2021

    Floro J, Dai A, Metzger A, Mora-Martin A, Ganem NJ, Cifuentes D, Wu CS, Dalal J, Lyons SM, Labadorf A, Flynn RL. SDE2 is an essential gene required for ribosome biogenesis and the regulation of alternative splicing. Nucleic Acids Res. 2021 09 20; 49(16):9424-9443. PMID: 34365507.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 4/26/2020

    Mason-Osann E, Terranova K, Lupo N, Lock YJ, Carson LM, Flynn RL. RAD54 promotes alternative lengthening of telomeres by mediating branch migration. EMBO Rep. 2020 06 04; 21(6):e49495. PMID: 32337843.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 9/13/2019

    Flynn RL, Heaphy CM. Surviving Telomere Attrition with the MiDAS Touch. Trends Genet. 2019 11; 35(11):783-785. PMID: 31526614.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 8/22/2019

    Panier S, Maric M, Hewitt G, Mason-Osann E, Gali H, Dai A, Labadorf A, Guervilly JH, Ruis P, Segura-Bayona S, Belan O, Marzec P, Gaillard PHL, Flynn RL, Boulton SJ. SLX4IP Antagonizes Promiscuous BLM Activity during ALT Maintenance. Mol Cell. 2019 10 03; 76(1):27-43.e11. PMID: 31447390.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/1/2019

    Gali H, Mason-Osann E, Flynn RL. Direct Visualization of DNA Replication at Telomeres Using DNA Fiber Combing Combined with Telomere FISH. Methods Mol Biol. 2019; 1999:319-325. PMID: 31127588.

    Read at: PubMed

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