Diane Stearns, PhD


Professor, Biochemistry and Associate Vice President for Research
Phone: 928- 523-4340
Offices: Bldg 88 Room 105B and Bldg 56 Room 243
Email: Diane.Stearns@nau.edu


Academic Highlights

Associate Vice President for Research, NAU 2015-present
Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, NAU 2006-present
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, NAU 2002-2006
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, NAU 1997-2002
Postdoctoral, Department of Chemistry, Dartmouth College, Metal Toxicology, 1992-1997
PhD, University of California, Berkeley, Inorganic Chemistry, 1991
BA, Carleton College, Chemistry, 1986


Research interests

The Stearns laboratory is interested in how metals damage DNA in ways that may lead to cancer. Current focus is on uranium and chromium. 

We are working to identify the DNA lesions formed by these metals in cultured cells and in vitro, and are characterizing the mutations caused by these DNA lesions. 

We are also interested in the effects of coordinating ligands on metal uptake, cytotoxicity and genotoxicity. 


33. Wilson, J; Zuniga, MC; Yazzie, F; Stearns DM. “Synergistic cytotoxicity and DNA strand breaks in cells and plasmid DNA exposed to uranyl acetate and ultraviolet radiation.” Journal of Applied Toxicology, 2015, 35, 338-349.  doi: 10.1002/jat.3015.

32. Wilson, J; Young, A; Civitello, ER; Stearns, DM. “Analysis of heat-labile sites generated by reactions of depleted uranium and ascorbate in plasmid DNA.” Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry, 2014, 19, 45-57. doi: 10.1007/s00775-013-1057-6.

31. George, SA; Whittaker, AM; Stearns, DM.  “Photoactivated uranyl ion produces single strand breaks in plasmid DNA.”  Chemical Research in Toxicology, 2011, 24, 1830-1832.  doi: 10.1021/tx200410x.

30. Schwartz, EI; Smilenov, LB; Price, MA; Osredkar, T; Baker, RA; Ghosh, S; Shi, F-D; Vollmer, TL; Lencinas, A; Stearns, DM; Gorospe, M; Kruman, II.  “Cell cycle activation in postmitotic neurons is essential for DNA repair.”  Cell Cycle, 2007, 6, 318-329.

29. Stearns, DM. “Evaluation of chromium(III) toxicity with cell culture and in vitro assays.” In The Nutritional Biochemistry of Chromium(III).  J.B. Vincent (Ed.), Elsevier, the Netherlands, 2007, pp 209-224. 

28. Stearns, DM.  “Multiple hypotheses for chromium(III) biochemistry: Why the essentiality of chromium is still questioned.” In The Nutritional Biochemistry of Chromium(III).  J.B. Vincent (Ed.), Elsevier, the Netherlands, 2007, pp 57-70. 

27. Coryell, VH; Stearns, DM.  “Molecular analysis of hprt mutations induced by chromium picolinate in CHO AA8 cells.”  Mutation Research, 2006, 610, 114-123.

26. Coryell, VH; Stearns, DM.  “Molecular analysis of hprt mutations generated in Chinese hamster ovary EM9 cells by uranyl acetate, by hydrogen peroxide, and spontaneously.”  Molecular Carcinogenesis2006, 45, 60-72.

25. Stearns, DM; Yazzie, M; Bradley, A; Coryell, VH; Shelley, JT; Ashby, A; Asplund, C; Lantz, RC. “Uranyl acetate induces hprt mutations and uranium-DNA adducts in Chinese hamster ovary EM9 cells.”  Mutagenesis2005, 20, 417-423. 

24. Blankert, SA; Coryell, VH; Picard, BT; Wolf, KK; Lomas, RE; Stearns, D.M.  “Characterization of non-mutagenic Cr(III)-DNA interactions.”  Chemical Research in Toxicology2003, 16, 847-854.

23. Yazzie, M; Gamble, SL; Civitello, ER; Stearns, DM.  “Uranyl acetate causes DNA single strand breaks in vitro in the presence of ascorbate (vitamin C).”  Chemical Research in Toxicology2003, 16, 524-530.

22. Manygoats, KR; Yazzie, M; Stearns, DM.  “Ultrastructural damage in chromium picolinate-treated cells: A TEM Study.”  Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry2002, 7, 791-798. 

21. Stearns, DM; Silveira, SM; Wolf, KK; Luke, AM.  “Chromium picolinate is mutagenic at the hprt locus in Chinese hamster ovary cells.”  Mutation Research2002, 513, 135-142. 

20. Civitello, ER; Leniek, RG; Hossler, KA; Haebe, K; Stearns, DM.  “Synthesis of Peptide-oligonucleotide conjugates for chromium coordination.”  Bioconjugate Chemistry2001, 12, 459-463. 

19. Sugden, KD; Stearns, DM.  “The role of chromium(V) in the mechanism of chromate-induced oxidative DNA damage and cancer.”  Journal of Environmental Pathology, Toxicology and Oncology2000, 19, 215-230. 

18. Stearns, DM.  “Is chromium a trace essential metal?” Biofactors2000, 11, 149-162.

17. Wise, JP, Sr.; Stearns, DM.  “Chromium carcinogenicity: the roles of valence state and solubility.”  The Occupational Environmental Medicine Report1997, 11, 100-103.

16. Stearns, DM; Wetterhahn, KE.  “Intermediates produced in the reaction of chromium(VI) with dehydroascorbate cause single-strand breaks in plasmid DNA.”  Chemical Research in Toxicology1997, 10, 271-278. 

15. Stearns, DM; Wetterhahn, KE.  “The mechanisms of metal carcinogenicity.  Chromium(VI)-induced genotoxicity: direct and indirect pathways.”  In Cytotoxic, Mutagenic and Carcinogenic Potential of Heavy Metals Including Metals Related to the Human Environment.  N.D. Hadjiliadis (Ed.), Kluwer Academic Publishers, the Netherlands, 1997, pp 55-72.

14. Martin, BD; Felty, RA; Stearns, DM; Wetterhahn, KE.  “Vanadium.”  In Trace Elements in Laboratory Rodents, R.R. Watson (Ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 1996.  Ch. 20, pp. 325-354. 

13. Stearns, DM.  “Isolation and in vitro analysis of biologically active chromium.”  In Trace Elements in Laboratory Rodents, R.R. Watson (Ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 1996.  Chapter 18, pp. 287-300. 

12. Stearns, DM; BelBruno, JJ; Wetterhahn, KE.  “A prediction of Cr(III) accumulation in humans from ingestion of Cr dietary supplements.”  FASEB Journal 1995, 9, 1650-1657.

11. Stearns, DM; Wise, JP; Patierno, SR; Wetterhahn, KE.  “Chromium(III) picolinate produces chromosome damage in Chinese hamster ovary cells.”  FASEB Journal1995, 9, 1643-1649. 

10. Stearns, DM; Courtney, KD; Kennedy, LJ; Giangrande, PH; Phieffer, LS; Wetterhahn, KE.  “Reduction of chromium(VI) by ascorbate leads to chromium-DNA binding and DNA strand breaks in vitro.”  Biochemistry1995, 34, 910-919.

9.   Wetterhahn, KE; Stearns, DM; Misra, M; Giangrande, PH; Phieffer, LS; Kennedy, LJ; Courtney, KD.  “The role of ascorbate in metabolism and genotoxicity of chromium(VI).”  In Genetic Response to Metals, B. Sarkar (Ed.), Marcel Dekker, Inc., NY, 1995, pp. 37-51. 

8.   Wise, JP; Stearns, DM; Wetterhahn, KE; Patierno, SR.  “Cell-enhanced dissolution of carcinogenic lead chromate particles: the role of individual dissolution products in clastogenesis.”  Carcinogenesis1994, 15, 2249-2254.

7.   Stearns, DM; Courtney, KD; Giangrande, PH; Phieffer, LS; Wetterhahn KE.  “Chromium(VI) reduction by ascorbate:  role of reactive intermediates in DNA damage in vitro.”  Environmental Health Perspectives1994, 102 (suppl. 3), 21-25. 

6.   Stearns, DM; Wetterhahn, KE.  “Reaction of chromium(VI) with ascorbate produces chromium(V), chromium(IV) and carbon-based radicals.”  Chemical Research in Toxicology1994, 7, 219-230.

5.   Olin, KL; Stearns, DM; Armstrong, WH; Keen, CL.  “Comparative retention/absorption of 51chromium (51Cr) from 51Cr chloride, 51Cr nicotinate, and 51Cr picolinate in a rat model.”  Trace Elements and Electrolytes1994, 11, 182-186. 

4.   Stearns, DM; Courtney, KD; Giangrande, PH; Kennedy, LJ; Phieffer, LS; Wetterhahn, KE.  “Chromium carcinogenicity: the role of chromium(V) intermediates in chromium(VI)-induced DNA damage.”  Metal Ions in Biology and Medicine1994, 3, 169-174.

3.   Stearns, DM; Armstrong, WH.  “Mononuclear and binuclear chromium(III) picolinate complexes.”  Inorganic Chemistry1992, 31, 5178-5184. 

2.   Stearns, DM; Hoffman, LR; Armstrong, WH.  “Structure of N,N-[bis(2-pyridylmethyl)-g-aminobutyrato]copper(II) bromide methanol solvate.”  Acta Crystallographica, Sec. C1992, 48, 253-256.

1.   Chambron, JC; Eichhorn, DM; Franczyk, TS; Stearns, DM.  “Structure of (hydridotris-pyrazolylborato)(iodo)(methyl)(triphenylphosphino)rhodium(III).”  Acta Crystallographica,Sec. C1991, 47, 1732-1734.