Stavroula Kousteni, PhD

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Administrative Titles

  • Professor, Department of Physiology & Cellular Biophysics


The purpose of the research in the laboratory is to examine the role of the stromal marrow niche in hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) fate with a particular emphasis in the development of myelodysplasia (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Specifically, we are exploring how extrinsic factors triggered from the bone marrow stroma microenvironment can affect growth of disease initiating stem cells in MDS or AML as well as the transformation of MDS to AML. We are interested in identifying the mechanisms and the lineage-specific stage at which osteoblasts and other cells of the bone marrow microenvironment interact with HSCs to induce or select for genetic alterations in them that transform them to malignant cells, the specific HSC functions that they are affecting and the molecular pathways that mediate the interactions between the two cell types.

Research Interests

  • Cross-talk pathways between leukemia and mesenchymal stem cells that affect progression of AML
  • Expression of novel markers of interest in MDS/AML cells and stromal cells from MDS/AML patients
  • How leukemia stem cells remodel mesenchymal stem cells to promote engraftment and proliferation
  • Identify hematopoietic stem cell intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms
  • Integrating genome-wide genomic and transcriptomic approaches in patients with MDS and AML
  • Molecular events in disease initiating pre-MDS stem cells and transformation to malignant cells
  • Stoma cells and how their functions change during MDS development and transformation to AML
  • Therapeutic approaches targeting pathways from stroma cells and influencing disease progression