Luis Batista, PhD


L BatistaI am a Portuguese-Brazilian-American scientist who is as undecided about my nationality as I am about my scientific interests. I have worked on many aspects of genome integrity and DNA damage since I was an undergraduate student at the University of Sao Paulo in Carlos Menck’s lab. There I first understood the power of genetics, when we restored function in cells from light-sensitive xeroderma pigmentosum patients by expressing a marsupial CPD-photolyase enzyme that could quickly repair their UV-damaged DNA. For my PhD, I worked with Bernd Kaina in Mainz, Germany, on a project focused on the resistance of glioblastoma cells to DNA damaging drugs that are still used in the clinic. I find it fascinating how pathways that evolved as protection from environmental insult could at the same time be so detrimental for the treatment of malignancies. For my postdoc, I then moved to California, where working with Steven Artandi at Stanford I focused on syndromes of telomere shortening, having developed novel human stem cell models to study these severe pediatric, cancer-prone diseases.

I moved to St. Louis in 2014 where I started my lab in the Departments of Medicine and Developmental Biology at the Washington University School of Medicine. Our lab mascot is Georgia, a sweet Golden-Retriever that can however get very upset when western-blots don’t work. Don’t mess with Georgia, get those blots to work!


Research 1Accumulation of DNA damage and telomere dysfunction are well established events in the etiology of cancer, aging and disease. However, until recently, a lack of physiologically relevant model systems prevented our deep understanding of the pathways connecting activation of DNA damage responses to tissue failure and transformation in humans.

In the Batista lab we utilize the targeted differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells to understand the etiology of disease and cancer after accumulation of DNA damage and exacerbated telomere shortening. We combine biochemical and mechanistic studies with our ability to differentiate human pluripotent stem cells into functional cell types to determine the importance of DNA repair and telomere maintenance in different cell populations and decipher the events that lead from accumulation genetic damage to disease in humans.

Lab website:

Recent Publications

Vessoni AT, Zhang T, Quinet A, Jeong HC, Munroe M, Wood M, Tedone E, Vindigni A, Shay JW, Greenberg RA, Batista LF (2021). Telomere erosion in human pluripotent stem cells leads to ATR-mediated mitotic catastrophe. Journal of Cell Biology; Jun 7;220(6). Find it here!

Munroe M, Niero EL, Fok WC, Vessoni AT, Jeong H, Brenner KA and Batista LF (2020). Telomere dysfunction activates p53 and represses HNF4a expression leading to impaired human hepatocyte development and function. Hepatology; 72(4):1412-1429. Find it here!

Shukla S, Jeong H, Sturgeon CM, Parker R and Batista LF (2020). Chemical inhibition of PAPD5/7 rescues telomerase function and hematopoiesis in dyskeratosis congenita. Blood Advances, 4(12):2717-2722. Find it here!

Vessoni A, Filippi-Chiela EC, Lenz G and Batista LF (2020). Tumor propagating cells: drivers of tumor plasticity, heterogeneity and recurrence. Oncogene, 39(10):2055-2068. Find it here!

Brestoff JR, Vessoni AT, Brenner KA, Uy GL, DiPersio JF, Blinder M, Witt CA, Byers DE, Hachem RR, Trulock EP, Early DS, Anadkat MJ, Musiek A, Javidan-Nejad C, Balfe DM, Rosman IS, Liu C, Zhang L, Despotis GJ, Ruzinova MB, Sehn JK, Amarillo I, Heusel JW, Swat W, Kim BS, Wartman LD, Yusen RD, Batista LF (2018). Acute graft-versus-host disease following lung transplantation in a patient with a novel TERT mutation. Thorax, 73(5): 489-492. Find it here!

Fok WC, Shukla S, Vessoni AT, Brenner KA, Parker R, Sturgeon CM and Batista LF (2019). Posttranscriptional regulation of TERC by PAPD5 inhibition rescues hematopoietic development in dyskeratosis congenita. Blood,133(12): 1308-1312. Find it here!

Fok WC, Niero EL, Dege C, Brenner KA, Sturgeon CM and Batista LF (2017). p53 mediates failure of human definitive hematopoiesis in dyskeratosis congenita. Stem Cell Reports, 9(2):409-418. Find it here!

Batista LF and Artandi  SE  (2013). Understanding telomere diseases through analysis of patient-derived iPS cells. Current Opinion in Genetics & Development, 23, 526-533. Find it here!

Zhong FL, Batista LF, Freund A, Pech MF, Venteicher AS, Artandi SE (2012). TPP1 OB-Fold Domain Controls Telomere Maintenance by Recruiting Telomerase to Chromosome Ends.  Cell 150, 481–94. Find it here!

Batista LF, Pech MF, Zhong FL, Nguyen HN, Xie KT, Zaug AJ, Crary SM, Choi J, Sebastiano V, Cherry A, Giri N, Wernig M, Alter BP, Cech TR, Savage SA, Reijo Pera R and Artandi SE (2011).  Telomere shortening and loss of self-renewal in dyskeratosis congenita induced pluripotent stem cells.  Nature 474, 399-402. Find it here!