Kathryn O’Donnell is an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She received her B.S. in Genetics from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in Human Genetics from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 2005. Her graduate work in Dr. Chi Dang’s laboratory focused on investigating the mechanisms underlying MYC-mediated tumorigenesis, establishing important roles for Transferrin Receptor 1 (TFRC1) and microRNAs in this oncogenic network. Kate stayed at Johns Hopkins and completed postdoctoral fellowship training in the laboratory of Dr. Jef Boeke in the Molecular Biology and Genetics Department.  During this time, she was awarded a fellowship from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. Her work involved both the application of existing transposon-mediated mutagenesis systems to perform forward genetic screens in mice as well as the development of new mutagenesis platforms for cancer gene discovery. In 2011, Kate was recruited to UT Southwestern Medical Center as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and received a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Recruitment of First-Time Tenure-Track Faculty Member Award. Her current work is focused on understanding the mechanisms that contribute to lung tumor initiation, progression, and metastasis and applying insights from these studies towards the development of new therapies for lung cancer. Several projects investigate the regulation and function of oncogenic cell surface receptors using molecular and biochemical studies, functional genetics, and mouse models. She is supported by awards from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Sidney Kimmel Foundation, the LUNGevity Foundation, the Welch Foundation, and CPRIT. 


Cornell University (1998), Biology
Graduate School
Johns Hopkins University (2005), Genetics

Research Interest

  • Cancer
  • CRISPR Genome Editing
  • Mechanisms of lung cancer pathogenesis
  • Mouse models of cancer


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

A Conserved Splicing Silencer Dynamically Regulates O-GlcNAc Transferase Intron Retention and O-GlcNAc Homeostasis.
Park SK, Zhou X, Pendleton KE, Hunter OV, Kohler JJ, O'Donnell KA, Conrad NK Cell Rep 2017 Aug 20 5 1088-1099
Hepatoblastoma modeling in mice places Nrf2 within a cancer field established by mutant ß-catenin.
Comerford SA, Hinnant EA, Chen Y, Bansal H, Klapproth S, Rakheja D, Finegold MJ, Lopez-Terrada D, O'Donnell KA, Tomlinson GE, Hammer RE JCI Insight 2016 Oct 1 16 e88549
A role for retrotransposon LINE-1 in fetal oocyte attrition in mice.
Malki S, van der Heijden GW, O'Donnell KA, Martin SL, Bortvin A Dev. Cell 2014 Jun 29 5 521-533
Controlled insertional mutagenesis using a LINE-1 (ORFeus) gene-trap mouse model.
O'Donnell KA, An W, Schrum CT, Wheelan SJ, Boeke JD Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2013 Jul 110 29 E2706-13
Stressing the Importance of CHOP in Liver Cancer
Updegraff BL and O'Donnell KA PLoS Genetics 2013 12 9 e1004045
Characterization of a synthetic human LINE-1 retrotransposon ORFeus-Hs.
An W, Dai L, Niewiadomska AM, Yetil A, O'Donnell KA, Han JS, Boeke JD Mob DNA 2011 2 1 2
Plug and play modular strategies for synthetic retrotransposons.
An W, Davis ES, Thompson TL, O'Donnell KA, Lee CY, Boeke JD Methods 2009 Nov 49 3

Honors & Awards

  • Friends of the Comprehensive Cancer Center Award in Cancer Research
  • LUNGevity Foundation Career Development Award
  • Sidney Kimmel Scholar Award
  • American Cancer Society - Simmons Cancer Center New Investigator Award
  • CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research
  • Damon Runyon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Award
  • AACR Scholar-in-Training Award
  • AACR Scholar-in-Training Award

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine (2017)
  • Cancer Biology Graduate Program (2011)
  • Genetics and Development Graduate Program (2011)
  • Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center (2011)
  • American Association for Cancer Research (2001)