Maria Kasper’s research focuses at understanding how adult stem cells maintain and repair tissue, and how stem cell dysfunction leads to tumorigenesis. Her research group studies the skin’s epidermis, which is the outer layer of our body that protects us from the surrounding world. It is daily confronted with harmful UV radiation from the sun, scratches and wounds. The skin responds to these challenges by activating the stem cells, which harbor the potential to replace the damaged cells and repair the tissue. However, the deregulation of stem cells can initiate cancer formation.
At CIMED, Maria’s research group uses various technologies such as engineered mouse models, confocal microscopy and single cell transcriptomics to investigate why, how and where cancer development starts, and how healthy skin regenerates. “It is intriguing that thousands of cells in a body acquire deleterious events every day; nonetheless – compared to the high number of cells carrying mutations – the initiation of cancer is a very rare event”, one of the many questions to be addressed.
“At present, we mainly study the murine skin to tackle our research questions. By using a ‘Confetti’ mouse model, we can mark stem cells in different colors and follow their progeny in healthy skin. Our recent results support a new emerging concept for tissue maintenance, suggesting that stem cells maintain locally restricted parts of an organ during health and only during an emergency situation like wound repair, stem cells leave their natural microenvironment and jointly repair the injury.”
Maria and her research team are excited to be part of CIMED, because its formation attracted and concentrated many outstanding research groups in one center. CIMED will serve as an outstanding scientific platform – brains and tools, diversity and collaboration – to ask entirely new questions, and answer challenging ones.
Maria Kasper received her Ph.D. in 2006 in Molecular Tumor Biology and Genetics at the University of Salzburg, Austria. Her postdoctoral period from 2007 to 2012 at the Karolinska Institutet was focused on tissue stem cells and tumor formation in mammary gland and skin. In 2013, after receiving funding from the Ragnar Söderberg Foundation, the Swedish Research Council, and the Young Investigator Award from the Swedish Cancer Society, she established her research group at the Dept. of Biosciences and Nutrition at the KI south campus.
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