Tomas Lindahl, Paul L. Modrich and Aziz Sancar were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for having mapped and explained how the cell repairs its DNA and safeguards its genetic information.

Dr. Lindahl, of the Francis Crick Institute in London, was honored for his discoveries on base excision repair — the cellular mechanism that repairs damaged DNA during the cell cycle. Dr. Modrich, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Duke University School of Medicine, was recognized for showing how cells correct errors that occur when DNA is replicated during cell division. Dr. Sancar, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was cited for mapping the mechanism cells use to repair ultraviolet damage to DNA.

“Their systematic work has made a decisive contribution to the understanding of how the living cell functions, as well as providing knowledge about the molecular causes of several hereditary diseases and about mechanisms behind both cancer development and aging,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awarded the prize, said in a statement.