Department of Biology

Rachel Woodruff

Rachel Woodruff, Assistant Professor of Biology, Brandeis UniversityAssociate Professor of Biology

Teaching, Past and Current

I teach several Biology courses here at Brandeis, each of which is fun for me in its own way. By far the largest number of my students are in BIOL 14a, Genetics and Genomic. For many students, this is their first college biology course. I enjoy introducing them to the excitement of genome-related problem-solving, inquiry, analysis and concepts.

My other fall course is BIOL 101a, Molecular Biotechnology, which is taken by the majority of life sciences masters students, as well as a few undergraduates. In this course, we focus on the tools of molecular biological research, and the students write hypothetical research proposals to work out how they can use those tools to answer their own favorite questions in molecular biology.

I have taught several electives, including BIOL 172b, Growth Control and Cancer, and BIOL 162b (formerly BIOL 150b), DNA Research and Mechanisms, for biology majors, and BISC 9a, Cancer Biology, for non-majors. These seminar-style classes involve plenty of discussion, student presentation, and, in the case of the courses for biology majors, interpretation of relevant research.


Before I came to Brandeis, my research focus was to use biochemical and genetic experiments to better understand DNA damage responses and mutagenesis in yeast and bacteria. Since coming to Brandeis, I am focusing exclusively on teaching, and do not have a research lab.

Selected Publications

  • Molecular determinants of complex formation between Clp/Hsp100 ATPases and the ClpP peptidase. Kim YI, Levchenko I, Fraczkowska K, Woodruff RV, Sauer RT, Baker TA.  Nat Struct Biol 8. 3 (2013): 230-3.
  • Eukaryotic translesion polymerases and their roles and regulation in DNA damage tolerance. Waters LS, Minesinger BK, Wiltrout ME, D'Souza S, Woodruff RV, Walker GC. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev 73.1 (2013):134-54.
  • The unusual UBZ domain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae polymerase η. Woodruff RV, Bomar MG, D'Souza S, Zhou P, Walker GC. DNA Repair (Amst) 9. 11 (2013):1130-41.
  • Mammalian plasma membrane ecto-nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase 1, CD39, is not active intracellularly. The N-glycosylation state of CD39 correlates with surface activity and localization. Zhong X, Malhotra R, Woodruff R, Guidotti G. J Biol Chem 276. 44 (2013): 41518-25.
  • Comparative analysis of in vivointeractions between Rev1 protein and other Y-family DNA polymerases in animals and yeasts. Kosarek JN, Woodruff RV, Rivera-Begeman A, Guo C, D'Souza S, Koonin EV, Walker GC, Friedberg EC. DNA Repair (Amst) 7. 3 (2008): 439-51.