Lab Research Focus: Somatic cell nuclear reprogramming, genetic modification of human pluripotent stem cells (PSC), pluripotency and self-renewal of pluripotent stem cells, and differentiation of PSC into blood lineage.
Dr. Hu’s lab is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms of somatic cell nuclear reprogramming, improvement of reprogramming technology, and genetic modification of pluripotent stem cells. 1) Mechanisms of somatic cell nuclear reprogramming. It has been known for decades that MII oocyte posses a powerful reprogramming capacity, but little is known about the molecular mechanisms of this amazing process. In 2006, it was found that a combination of four transcript factors, Oct4, Sox2, c-Myc and Klf4, can reprogram the somatic cells back to pluripotency, but the reprogramming process remains a grand black box to scientists. Yet, iPS technology provides a powerful tool to dissect the reprogramming process. Dr. Hu’s lab is intensely involved in deciphering the mechanistic steps of somatic cell nuclear reprogramming; 2) direct reprogramming with defined factors is still a long, inefficient and stochastic process. The lab’s second goal is to develop efficient reprogramming technologies for reprogramming of human somatic cells. 3) The lab is also interested in genetic modification of pluripotent stem cells, especially, by homologous recombination. Dr. Hu’s lab will address these questions with an array of new approaches (molecular biology, genetics, high-throughput screening and bioinformatics). Ultimately, the laboratory’s goal is to understand the control of pluripotency and self-renewal of PSC.
Dr. Kejin Hu, an assistant professor at UAB Stem Cell Institute/Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, received his BSc in biology from Central China Agriculture University (1985) and worked as a scientist at Hubei Academy of Agricultural Sciences till 1995. He then furthered his education in fungal chemistry at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University from 1995 to 1997, and received his MPhil degree (1997). He completed his PhD training in molecular biology at the Zoology Department (now School of Biological Sciences), University of Hong Kong (2003). Dr. Hu pursued his first postdoctoral research at Cornell University in muscle development using C. elegans as a model. From 2004 to 2006, he focused his research on TOR signaling in budding yeast at Pittsburgh University. In 2007, he started his postdoctoral training in human embryonic stem cell biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While involved in differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into blood lineage, he focused his research on reprogramming of human somatic cells into pluripotent stem cells. Dr. Hu contributed to the development of a non-integrating method for reprogramming. He also developed methods for reprogramming archived, non-fractionated human bone marrow and cord blood cells into iPS cells free of vector and transgene sequences. Dr. Hu joined the faculty at UAB in 2011.