kejin huAssistant Professor

Research Areas
Molecular mechanisms of cellular reprogramming


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.

Research Interests

Molecular mechanisms of cellular reprogramming. One cell type can be converted into another in a petri dishin a way that does not follow anynatural developmental process. This manipulation is called cellular reprogramming. Cellular reprogramming includes pluripotent and direct somatic reprogramming. Pluripotent reprogramming is a process of induction of pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from somatic cells by ectopic expression of transgenes or by chemical treatments. Direct reprogramming is a process of cellular conversion between two somatic cell types. Cellular reprogramming extensively expands potential of regenerative medicine. The underlying molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. One major work of Hu lab is dissecting the molecular process of cellular reprogramming.

Tumorigenicity of human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). One defining feature of PSCs is their ability to generate tumors (teratoma) when injected into animals. Tumorigenicity of PSCs poses a grave concern for clinical application of PSC-derived cells. We are investigating the molecular regulation of PSC tumorigenicity and developing efficient methods for easy and robust elimination of tumorigenic PSCs in the PSC-derived transplants.

BET regulation of stemness and cancer development. Bromodomain extra terminal (BET) proteins are key readers of acetylation marks on chromatin. As key regulators of transcription, BET proteins play critical roles in stem cell biology, cellular reprograming, and cancer development. Hu lab is investigating how BET proteins regulate pluripotency, cellular reprogramming and cancer development.

Molecular regulation of pluripotency of cultured human PSCs. Cultured PSCs fall into two states of pluripotency, naïve and primed. We are elucidating how these two states of pluripotency are molecularly regulated.

1. Z Shao, R Zhang, A Khodadadi-Jamayran, B Chen, M Crowley, M Festok, D Crossman, Tim Townes, Kejin Hu*(2016)The AcetyllysineReader BRD3R Promotes Human Nuclear Reprogramming and Regulates Mitosis. Nature Communications,7:10869

2. Z Shao, C Yao, A Khodadadi-Jamayran, W. Xu, T Townes, MR Crowley, Kejin Hu*(2016) Reprogramming by de-bookmarking somatic transcriptional program viatargeting the BET bromodomains. Cell Reports,16:3138-3145.

3. L Kang, C Yao, A Khodadadi-Jamayran, W Xu, R Zhang, NS Banerjee, CW Chang, LT Chow, T Townes, Kejin Hu*(2016) The universal 3D3 antibody of human PODXL is pluripotent cytotoxic, and identifies aresidual population after extended differentiation of pluripotent stem cells. Stem Cells Development,25:556-568

4. Kejin Hu*(2014)All roads lead to induced pluripotent stem cells: the technologies of iPSC generation. Stem Cells and Development, 23:1285-1300.

5. Kejin Hu*(2014) Vectorology and factor delivery system in induced pluripotent stem cell reprogramming. Stem Cells and Development, 23: 1301-1315.

6. Kejin Hu, J Yu, K Suknuntha, S Tian, K Montgomery, K Choi, R Stewart, J Thomson, I Slukvin* (2011) Efficient reprogramming of mononuclear cells from archived normal and neoplastic human bone marrow and cord blood with non-integrating episomal constructs. Blood,117:e109-e119.

7. J Yu, Kejin Hu, K Smuga-otto, S Tian, R Stewart, I Slukvin, J Thomson* (2009)Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells free of vector and transgene sequences. Science,324:797-80.


Graduate School
Ph.D., University of Hong Kong, China

Postdoctoral Fellowship
Cornell University
Pittsburgh University
University of Wisconsin-Madison


Shelby Biomedical Research Building
Room 705
1825 University Blvd.
Birmingham, AL 35294-2182

(205) 934-4700


Committed to exploring new frontiers in basic and translational research.

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics is an integral part of the vibrant biomedical research community at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). UAB ranks among the top public institutions of higher education in terms of research and training awards. Research conducted by the faculty, staff, and students of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics is currently supported by more than $4.3 million per year in extramural, investigator-initiated grants.


The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics carries out cutting-edge basic and translational research. Research strengths in the department includes cancer biology, chromatin and epigenetic signaling, metabolism and signaling, regulation of gene expression, structural biology, DNA synthesis and repair, and disease mechanisms.


Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics are trained to carry out hypothesis-driven research using advanced research techniques. This training will prepare our graduates for a career in not just biomedical research, but also in other diverse fields that require critical thinking. Our faculty also proudly trains professional (MD, DDS, & DO) students, as well as undergraduate students at UAB.

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