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Email kburns@jhmi.edu
Phone (410) 502-7214

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Division of Hematologic Pathology

Burns Laboratory

Kathleen H. Burns, M.D., Ph.D.

Primary Appointment in Pathology; Secondary Appointment in Oncology
Member, Graduate Program in Pathobiology; Member, Institute of Genetic Medicine Predoctoral Training Program in Human Genetics
Affiliated faculty, High Throughput Biology Center

My laboratory studies roles of transposable elements in human cancers, with an emphasis on the hematopoietic neoplasias. There is compelling evidence that these poorly understood mobile DNAs have potential to contribute to genomic instability and mRNA transcript alterations in the context of neoplasia, and we believe inherited insertions also may create predispositions to disease.

Projects in the lab include: (i.) The development of one-sided PCR based assays to map transposon insertions in the human genome; (ii.) Finding evidence for somatic insertions of mobilized DNAs in cancers, and exploring potential clinical markers for this instability; (iii.) Describing common inherited transposon insertion polymorphisms in cancer patients and assessing whether these structural variations contribute to cancer susceptibility or tumor progression.


Huang CR, Burns KH, Boeke JD., Active transposition in genomes., Annu Rev Genet. 2012;46:651-75.

Burns KH, Boeke JD., Human transposon tectonics., Cell. 2012 May 11;149(4):740-52.

Huang CR, Schneider AM, Lu Y, Niranjan T, Shen P, Robinson MA, Steranka JP, Valle D, Civin CI, Wang T, Wheelan SJ, Ji H, Boeke JD, Burns KH., Mobile interspersed repeats are major structural variants in the human genome., Cell. 2010 Jun 25;141(7):1171-82.

Ma L, Buchold GM, Greenbaum MP, Roy A, Burns KH, Zhu H, Han DY, Harris RA, Coarfa C, Gunaratne PH, Yan W, Matzuk MM., GASZ is essential for male meiosis and suppression of retrotransposon expression in the male germline.PLoS Genet. 2009 Sep;5(9):e1000635

O'Donnell KA, Burns KH, Boeke JD., A descent into the nuage: the maelstrom of transposon control., Dev Cell. 2008 Aug;15(2):179-81.


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