Kan Cao received the B Sc degree in Biology from the Nanjing University China in 1997, and Ph.D. degree in Biology from the Johns Hopkins University in 2005. She did her postdoctoral fellowship in genomics at the National Institutes of Health between 2005-2010. She is an associate professor of cell biology and molecular genetics at the University of Maryland College Park.
Dr. Cao studies molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying Hutchinson Gilford progeria syndrome, a rare premature aging disease, and the normal human aging process. Children with HGPS die at their early teens due to heart attack or stoke. Approximately 90% of the HGPS cases are caused by a de novo mutation at 1824 position of the lamin A gene (C1824T, G608G). This mutation does not affect the coded amino acid, but partially activates a cryptic splice donor site in the exon 11, leading to the production of a mutant lamin A mRNA that contains an internal deletion of 150 base pairs. This is then translated into a lamin A mutant protein missing 50 amino acids near the C-terminus, termed “progerin”. Remarkably, to date, there are over 180 mutations related to the nuclear lamina, and it is associated with at least 14 known human diseases (the laminopathies). However, the molecular mechanisms of lamin A’s function still remain unclear. To investigate this question, Cao laboratory applies a potent suite of techniques from cell biology, stem cell biology, to genomics.
Dr. Cao has a long history of mentoring. She has served as advisor for eight Ph.D. students, five postdoctoral fellows and ten undergraduate students.
Dr. Cao was named the New Scholar in Aging by the Ellison Medical Foundation in 2011, received Board of Visitors junior faculty award from the University of Maryland in 2013, and was the finalist of the Invention of the Year by the University of Maryland in 2016. In 2018, she received Norma M. Allewell Prize In Entrepreneurship from the University of Maryland.
Her Research interest in Hutchinson Gilford progeria, telomere and cellular senescence, alternative splicing and human aging.