Epigenetics is Karl Ekwall’s area of expertise, i.e., the study of heritable changes that aren’t associated with changes in the DNA sequence.
Via a combination of basic and applied research, he works toward better understanding of the impact of chromatin remodeling mechanisms on cell differentiation and cancer. At CIMED, he focuses on these main projects:
- Search for holistic understanding of regulatory factors involved in centromere function, nuclear organization, and gene regulation
- SNF2 enzymes that play a key role in epigenetic mechanisms and when defected, are implicated in developmental disorders and cancer
- Acute myeloid leukemia, which displays high mortality and requires new perspectives; this project will link pre-clinical and clinical research
“The centromere is a paradigm for a chromosomal structure that is under epigenetic control by mechanisms such as small RNA, histone modification, and remodeling systems – just to mention a few examples. We’re studying changes of DNA methylation, chromatin marks in progenitor cells and derived tumor cells, and we hope to develop novel prognostic tools to predict the disease’s course. All three projects are in the interface between basic and clinical research – which aligns perfectly with the overall goals at CIMED. I think the KI south campus is an excellent research environment with opportunities for developing links from basic research to clinical and biotechnology applications. By being part of the CIMED team, I hope to further strengthen my research activities at the Huddinge site.”
Ekwall is professor of Medical Genetics and Epigenetics at Karolinska Institutet, he has a background in molecular biology and genetics and has been working in the chromatin and epigenetics field for more than 20 years.