Kai Kessenbrock, Ph.D.


Dr. Kessenbrock is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry.

Research Interests

Kai received his Diploma degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Heidelberg and his Ph.D. from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology and LMU Munich in Germany. He did his postdoc in Dr. Zena Werb’s lab at the University of California, San Francisco. Kai’s work is focused on how cells communicate and integrate signals from their local microenvironment during normal tissue homeostasis and cancer. His interest in microenvironmental control pathways grew out of his graduate work, where he studied the function of neutrophil serine proteases in acute inflammatory responses (Kessenbrock et al, Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2008) and in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases (Kessenbrock et al, Nature Medicine, 2009). During his postdoc he expanded his expertise to the role of matrix metalloproteinases in the tumor microenvironment (Kessenbrock et al, Cell, 2010) and as regulators of breast epithelial stem cells through modulation of the Wnt signaling pathway (Kessenbrock et al, Cell Stem Cell, 2013). His current research investigates mechanisms of cellular communication in the mammary stem cell niche and the spectrum of heterogeneity within the breast epithelium using systems-level analyses in single cell resolution (Nguyen, Pervolarakis et al., Nat. Commun. in press). These projects will further our understanding of the systematic changes during early tumorigenesis with the ultimate goal to identify biomarkers for early detection as well as novel therapeutic strategies to improve disease outcome for breast cancer patients.



114 Sprague Hall
(949) 824-2718


140 Sprague Hall
(949) 824-3424