« Back

Aurora F. Kerscher , PhD

    • Title:
    • Assistant Professor

    • Role:
    • Faculty

    • Faculty Appointments:
    • Additional Certifications:
    • Focus Areas:
    • Office Location:
    • Lester Hall

    • Undergraduate Education:
    • Graduate Education:
      • MS, Johns Hopkins University
      • PhD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
    • Postdoctoral Education:
      • Postdoctoral Training, Yale University
    • Medical Education:
    • Residency:
    • Fellowship
    • Research Interests:
    • Cancer is marked by uncontrolled proliferation and inappropriate survival of damaged cells in the body. Many processes used to direct the proper growth, differentiation and cell death of tissues in the developing embryo are identical to the genetic pathways that are perturbed in the cancerous state. Recently, an abundant class of non-coding RNAs, microRNAs (miRNAs), has been implicated to function as tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes and is often dysregulated in human cancers. Little is known regarding how these molecules contribute to cellular transformation and tumor formation. MiRNAs are small ~22 nucleotide single-stranded RNAs that negatively regulate expression of their gene targets. Animal miRNAs bind to complementary sequences located in the 3’ untranslated region (3’ UTR) of their target protein-coding messenger RNAs (mRNAs), resulting in translational inhibition and/or mRNA degradation.

      Dr. Kerscher is very interested in studying the role miRNAs play in controlling developmental events and how this relates to cancer progression. The lab employs the simple roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans, an organism easily grown and studied in the laboratory and amenable to genetic manipulation, to characterize the biological function of novel miRNA genes. Specifically, the lab focuses on the lin-4 and let-7 miRNA families, which they have found to direct important developmental processes such as cell-fate specification and gonad formation. The lin-4 and let-7 miRNAs are highly conserved across animal phylae and provide a unique opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the nematode to elucidate the mechanisms of human disease.

    • Primary Specialty:
    • Hospital:
    • Courses Taught:
    • Biomedical Sciences Program Track: Molecular Integrative Biosciences (MIB)

    • Current Projects:
    • Bio: