Personal HistoryDr. Candace Kerr is a member of the University Of Maryland,Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and holds the academic appointment of assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Dr. Kerr received aMaster’s of Science from the University of Maine, PhD degree in Genetics and Biochemistry from Pennsylvania State University and completed her postdoctoral training in reproductive biology and stem cell research at Johns Hopkins University.
Research InterestsDr. Kerr studies pluripotent stem cells as a model for identifying factors regulating pluripotency and early human development. For this purpose, Dr. Kerr’s laboratory studies three well-established types of pluripotent stem cells: embryonic stem cells derived from blastocyst-staged embryos, embryonic germ cells derived from progenitors of the germ line, and embryonal carcinoma cells isolated from adult testicular tumors called teratocarcinomas. Her laboratory investigates pathways expressed byprimordial germ cells and stem cellsto examine how they regulate pluripotency. Primordial germ cells are the stem cells of the sperm and egg. Dr. Kerr’slaboratory identified stem cell marker expression in the early human fetal gonad and characterized key pathways in the development of human primordial germ cells into human embryonic germ cells.
Above Left: Dr. Kerr’s laboratory investigates how key molecular pathways govern human development using human pluripotent stem cell models.
Her laboratory also examines mechanisms involved in cell differentiation. Early human development cannot be recapitulated in a laboratory, especially to the level at which it can be researched in animals. However, pluripotent stem cells provide a very powerful model for identifying how certain molecules regulate the development of human cell fate and differentiation. In our laboratory, we focus on studying the development of three different cell types -germ cells, oligodendrocytesand skin. We are particularly interested in studying the development of germ cellsfrom pluripotent stem cells and how the gonadal environment or “niche” influences this development.Oligodendrocytes are responsible for the electrical insulation of the central nervous system and plays key roles in several demyelinating-associated diseases and afflictions. Dr. Kerr’s laboratory is also involved in developing new therapies that target oligodendrocyte recovery for spinal cord injury. Some of this work is performed in collaboration with the Spinal Cord Injury Neuroelectrophysiology Monitoring Group at Johns Hopkins University.
Above Right: Dr. Kerr’s laboratory primarily focuses on discovering mechanisms involved in the development of normal skin, oligodendrocytes and germ cells. For this purpose, her laboratory generates cells shown above from human embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells and germline stem cells.
Most research in the lab revolves around the ability to implement new strategies for deriving stem cells from adult tissue and to differentiate these cells into germ cells or oligodendrocytes. Recent advances in the ability to generate pluripotent stem cells from adult tissue have opened incredible new opportunities to investigate the molecular events that regulate human regeneration and development. To take advantage of this revolution, the lab will continue developing techniques and analysis to understand how molecules regulate development of these two cell fates.
Students and postdocs in the lab can expect to utilize state-of-the-art cell engineering techniques to study mechanisms involved in generating pluripotent stem cells and differentiating them into different cell fates. We use quantitative immunological, DNA and RNA analysis to study key regulatory events. Her laboratory also focuses on microRNA and proteomic-based analyses using bioinformatics to define key factors associated with oligodendrocyte development. A variety of molecular techniques are used to tag and alter proteins of interest for live-cell imaging, and lab members will be encouraged to develop biochemical assays to test mechanistic hypotheses outside the cell.
Stem Cells in the News:
Selected Journal Articles
Hiller M, Liu C, Blumenthal PD, Gearhart JD, Kerr C.L. (2011) Bone morphogenetic protein 4 mediates human embryonic germ cell derivation. Cover Issue in Stem Cells Dev. Feb;20(2):351-61. Epub 2010 Oct 21.
R.*Chaerkady, C. L. Kerr*, A. Marimuthu, D. S. Kelkar, M. K. Kashyap, M. Gucek, J. D. Gearhart and A. Pandey. (2010) Proteomic characterization of human embryonic stem cell and embryonal carcinoma cells. Cover Issue in Proteomics. Apr;10(7):1359-73. *Shared Primary Authorship
C. L. Kerr, C. M. Hill, P. D. Blumenthal and J. D. Gearhart. (2008) Expression of Pluripotent Stem Cell Markers in the Human Fetal Testis. Stem Cells. 2008 Feb;26(2):412-21.
C. L. Kerr, C. M. Hill, P. D. Blumenthal and J. D. Gearhart. (2008) Expression of Pluripotent Stem Cell Markers in the Human Fetal Ovary. Hum Reprod. 2008 Mar;23(3):589-99.
R. Chaerkady, Angelo All, A. Pandey, and C. L. Kerr. Proteomic analysis of oligodendrocyte progenitor development, Proteomics, 2011 Jul 19. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201100107. [Epub ahead of print]
Maybhate A, Hu C, Bazley FA, Yu Q, Thakor NV, and Kerr C. L., All AH. Potential long-term benefits of acute hypothermia after spinal cord injury: Assessments with somatosensory-evoked potentials. Crit Care Med. 2011 Oct 13. [Epub ahead of print].
Letzen BS, Liu C, Thakor NV, Gearhart JD, All AH, and Kerr C. L. MicroRNA expression profiling of oligodendrocyte differentiation from human embryonic stem cells. PLoS One. 2010 May 5;5(5):e10480
C. L. Kerr, B. Letzen, C. Hill, G. Agrawal, N. V. Thakor, J. Sterneckert, J. D. Gearhart, and Angelo All. Efficient differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into oligodendrocyte progenitors for application in a rat contusion model of spinal cord injury. Int J Neurosci. 2010 Apr;120(4):305-13.
G. Agrawal, C. L. Kerr, N. V. Thakor, Angelo H. All. Characterization of Graded MASCIS Contusion Spinal Cord Injury using Somatosensory Evoked Potentials, Spine. 2010 May 15;35(11):1122 7, 2010.
R. Chaerkady*, C. L. Kerr*, A. Marimuthu, D.S. Kelkar, M.K. Kashyap, M Gucek, J.D. Gearhart, and A. Pandey Temporal analysis of neural differentiation using quantitative proteomics. J Proteome Res. 2009 Mar;8(3):1315-26. *Shared Primary Authorship.
Selected Invited Book Chapters/Reviews
Maria P De Miguel, C. L. Kerr, Pilar López-Iglesias, Yago Alcaina. "Techniques and conditions for embryonic germ cell derivation and culture" in Embryonic Stem Cells Book 1", ISBN 978-953-308-61-1, in press.
C. L. Kerr, Cheng L. Multiple, interconvertible states of human pluripotent stem cells. Cell Stem Cell. 2010 Jun 4;6(6):497-9.
Swelstad, B and C. L. Kerr. "Current protocols in the generation of pluripotent stem cells: theoretical, methodological and clinical considerations". Stem Cell Cloning: Advances and Applications, Dec. 2009.
C. L. Kerr, Cheng L. The Dazzle in Germ Cell Differentiation. J Mol Cell Biol. 2010 Feb;2(1):26-9. Epub 2009 Dec 11.
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