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Hector L. Franco, PhD
Hector Franco, PhD, Associate Professor of Genetics

Hector Franco, PhD has been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Genetics, effective June 1, 2023.

Dr. Franco earned his BS in Molecular Biology from Florida Institute of Technology (2005) and his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics from University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine (2011) in the laboratory of Dr. Carmen L. Cadilla.  Dr. Franco completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. W. Lee Kraus at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (2011-2016), where he focused on gene regulation and genomics.  Dr. Franco was appointed as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics at UNC-Chapel Hill, effective February 1, 2017.  He also became a member of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC coincident with his appointment in Genetics.


Dr. Franco has developed a unique and holistic experimental approach to understanding chromatin structure and gene enhancers in breast and ovarian cancers.  By exploiting the power of CRISPR technology, his lab has demonstrated that eRNAs are essential for proper enhancer function and discovered clinically relevant biomarkers (in the form of oncogenic-enhancer annotations) that were predictive of outcomes in ovarian cancer patients.  Dr. Franco’s research program will continue to utilize computational and genetic tools to pursue new therapeutics for difficult-to-treat tumors.