Jórunn Erla Eyfjörð

Position: Professormynd
Telephone: + 354-525-5825
E-mail: jorunne@hi.is


Jórunn Erla Eyfjörd did her undergraduate studies at the University of Iceland and University of Minnesota and her doctoral studies at the University of Sussex, England and completed her D. Phil. in molecular genetics 1976. Her doctoral thesis is on DNA repair of radiation damage. After returning to Iceland she worked at the laboratory of Prof. Gudmundur Eggertsson at the University of Iceland Biology Institute and as a lecturer in molecular bioloy, cell biology and human genetics at the University of Iceland Departments of Science and Medicine. In 1988 she was appointed by the Icelandic Cancer Society to set up and lead research in molecular cancer genetics in the then newly founded ICS Molecular and Cell Biology Research Laboratory. The laboratory was moved over to the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Iceland in 2008 and is now the UI Cancer Research Laboratory. Jorunn was appointed Associate Professor at the UI Faculty of Medicine 1998 and Professor 2005.


Main research interests have been in the field of cancer genetics and genomic instability in cancer. Jorunn participated in the search for breast cancer susceptibility genes and found with her collaborators a local founder mutation, 999del5 in the BRCA2 gene in 1996. She also did large studies on prognostic significance of mutations in the p53 gene. In collaboration with the Icelandic Cancer Registry, the University Hospital Departments of Pathology and Oncology she has worked on a number of studies on the population impact of mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and clinical importance in breast and prostate cancer.

Among present research projects:

  • Molecular profiling of breast and prostate cancers using different microarray techniques looking at genetic variability and expression in tumours with and without BRCA defects with respect to prognosis and response to treatment
  • Studies on DNA repair, genomic instability and cell division in cells with BRCA abnormalities
  • Research on epigenetic changes in breast tumours (in collaboration with IDIBELL in Barcelona)
  • Studies on telomeres and BRCA related cancers
  • Studies on new targeted cancer drugs in cell line models with and without BRCA abnormalities

Research group

Dr. Sigríður Klara Böðvarsdóttir
Hólmfríður Hilmarsdóttir, biotechnician

Graduate students:

Sigríður Þóra Reynisdóttir, Doctoral student
Hörður Bjarnason, Masters student
Guðrún Birna Jónsdóttir, Masters student
Margrét Aradóttir, Masters student

Doctororal projects completed over the last 2 years:

Dr. Ólafur Andri Stefánsson, 2. Sept. 2011, name of project: BRCA–like Phenotype in Sporadic Breast Cancers. Opponents Dr. Michael Stratton, Head of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Professor at the Institute of Cancer Research in England, and  Dr. Vessela N. Kristensen, Department of Genetics, Institute of Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital. Olaf Andri is now a post doc at the Cancer Epigenetics and Biology Program, Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute, IDIBELL, in Barcelona


Dr. Ásta Björk Jónsdóttir, 19. Nov. 2010. Name of project: The function of the  BRCA2 protein and centriole mobility during cytokinesis studied with live-cell microscopy. Co-superviors: Dr. Károly Szuhai og Prof. Hans J. Tanke at the University of Leiden Holland.  Opponents, Prof Jos Jonkers, Division of Molecular Pathology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam and Prof Kesara Amanthawat–Jónsson, Department of Science, University of Iceland. Ásta Björk is a post doc at the  University of Cambridge, MRC Cancer Cell Unit.

Selected publications:

Stefansson OA, Jonasson JG, Olafsdottir K, Bjarnason H, Johannsson OT, Bodvarsdottir SK, Valgeirsdottir S, Eyfjord JE. Genomic and Phenotypic Analysis of BRCA2 Mutated Breast Cancers Reveals Co-occurring Changes Linked to Progression. 13,5, R95, Breast Cancer Research (2011)

Ferdinandos Skoulidis, Liam D. Cassidy, Venkat Pisupati, Jon G. Jonasson, Hordur Bjarnason, Jorunn E. Eyfjord, Florian A. Karreth, Michael Lim, Lorraine M. Barber, Susan A. Clatworthy, Susan E. Davies, Kenneth P. Olive, David A. Tuveson, Ashok R. Venkitaraman. Germline Brca2 heterozygosity promotes KrasG12D –driven carcinogenesis in a murine model for familial pancreatic cancer. 18, 1-11, Nov 16, Molecular Cell (2010)

Thorlacius, S, Tryggvadottir, L, Olafsdottir, G H, Jonasson, J G, Ogmundsdottir, HM, Tulinius, H, and Eyfjord, JE. Linkage to BRCA2 region in hereditary male breast cancer [editorial comment], Lancet, 346, 544 (1995).

Thorlacius, S., Olafsdottir, G., Tryggvadottir, L., Neuhausen, S., Jonasson, J. G., Tavtigian, S. V., Tulinius, H., Ogmundsdottir, H. M., and Eyfjord, J. E. A single BRCA2 mutation in male and female breast cancer families from Iceland with varied cancer phenotypes [editorial comments], Nature Genetics, 13, 117 (1996).

Eyfjord, J. E., Thorlacius, S., Steinarsdottir, M., Valgardsdottir, R., Ogmundsdottir, H. M., and Anamthawat-Jonsson, K. p53 abnormalities and genomic instability in primary human breast carcinomas, Cancer Res, 55, 646-651 (1995).

Thorlacius, S., Sigurdsson, S., Bjarnadottir, H., Olafsdottir, G., Jonasson, J. G., Tryggvadottir, L., Tulinius, H., and Eyfjord, J. E. Study of a single BRCA2 mutation with high carrier frequency in a small population [editorial comments], Am J Hum Genet, 60, 1079 (1997).

Gretarsdottir, S., Thorlacius, S., Valgardsdottir, R., Gudlaugsdottir, S., Sigurdsson, S., Steinarsdottir, M., Jonasson, J. G., Anamthawat-Jonsson, K., and Eyfjord, J. E. BRCA2 and p53 mutations in primary breast cancer in relation to genetic instability, Cancer Res, 58, 859 (1998).

Thorlacius, S., Struewing, J. P., Hartge, P., Olafsdottir, G. H., Sigvaldason, H., Tryggvadottir, L., Wacholder, S., Tulinius, H., and Eyfjord, J.E. Population-based study of risk of breast cancer in carriers of BRCA2 mutation [editorial comments], Lancet, 352, 1337 (1998)

Stefansson OA, Jonasson JG, Olafsdottir K, Bjarnason H, Johannsson OT, Bodvarsdottir SK, Valgeirsdottir S, Eyfjord JE. Genomic and Phenotypic Analysis of BRCA2 Mutated Breast Cancers Reveals Co-occurring Changes Linked to Progression. 13,5, R95, Breast Cancer Research (2011)

Olafur Andri Stefansson, Jon Gunnlaugur Jonasson, Kristrun Olafsdottir, Holmfridur Hilmarsdottir, Gudridur Olafsdottir, Manel Esteller, Oskar Thor Johannsson and Jorunn Erla Eyfjord. CpG island hypermethylation of BRCA1 and loss of pRb as co-occurring events in basal/triple-negative breast cancer. Epigenetics, Vol 6: 5: 638-650 (2011)

Sigridur K. Bodvarsdottir, Margret Steinarsdottir, Hordur Bjarnason, Jorunn E. Eyfjord. Dysfunctional telomeres in human BRCA2 mutated breast tumors and cell lines. Mutation Research, 729, 90-99 (2011)