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 descent into the nuage: the maelstrom of transposon control.
O'Donnell KA, Burns KH, Boeke JD Dev. Cell 2008 Aug 15 2
Toward a comprehensive temperature-sensitive mutant repository of the essential genes of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Ben-Aroya S, Coombes C, Kwok T, O'Donnell KA, Boeke JD, Hieter P Mol. Cell 2008 Apr 30 2
Domesticated DNA transposon proteins mediate retrotransposon control.
O'Donnell KA, Boeke JD Cell Res. 2008 Mar 18 3
Myc stimulates nuclearly encoded mitochondrial genes and mitochondrial biogenesis.
Li F, Wang Y, Zeller KI, Potter JJ, Wonsey DR, O'Donnell KA, Kim JW, Yustein JT, Lee LA, Dang CV Mol. Cell. Biol. 2005 Jul 25 14 6225-34
An mRNA surveillance mechanism that eliminates transcripts lacking termination codons.
Frischmeyer PA, van Hoof A, O'Donnell K, Guerrerio AL, Parker R, Dietz HC Science 2002 Mar 295 5563

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)