Sarah Mordan-McCombs, Ph.D.

“I find biology – especially genetics and molecular biology – fascinating because it is all about how our cells work.  There are so many ways things can go wrong and yet we persist!”


Division head for natural sciences; Deppe Chair of Biology; associate professor of biology

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., University of Notre Dame – Notre Dame, IN
  • B.A., Depauw University – Greencastle, IN

Year joined Franklin



My background is in cell and molecular biology, specifically cancer biology. In my Ph.D. work, I studied the role of the vitamin D receptor in the development and progression of prostate cancer. My current research projects involve different strains of the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We are investigating the ability of these cells to withstand oxidative stress, and assessing the potential of a chemical called cysteamine to protect cells from stress.  Our hypothesis is that this chemical may provide protection in cells that have “broken” stress responses, similar to what happens in neurons in the early stages of neurodegenerative diseases.

In My Spare Time…

In my spare time I play the cello and clarinet.