About the Lab

The Stem Cell and Cancer Biology Laboratory of Nagarajan Kannan, Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota, is dedicated to improving scientific knowledge to build and maintain healthy tissues and to prevent or treat conditions such as cancer.

About Dr. Kannan's research

Human tissue maintains a steady-state and function using different types of cells and their relative numbers to fulfill their physiological role. Pools of long-lived self-renewing stem cells in such tissue ensure a constant supply of cells needed for tissue renewal.

During tissue renewal, stem cells transition through different molecular states, ultimately acquiring a terminal, or mature, cell-state.

Primitive (stem and progenitor) cell-state has been implicated as the cell of origin for cancers in various tissues. A large body of epidemiological studies has identified a number of cancer risk factors, such as gender, age and various genetic, environmental and lifestyle associated cancer predisposing factors.

Acquisition of altered molecular features, in response to these risk factors, in the ostensibly normal primitive cell compartments, may lead to distortions in molecular states and their transitions, ultimately generating aberrant clones with increased risk for mutagenesis and cancer initiation.

There's insufficient knowledge about physiological mechanisms regulating stem cells and their molecular transitions and their vulnerabilities to acquire mutagenic or oncogenic states in conditions such as aging and cancer.

Therefore, a clear understanding of stem cell differentiation processes and the biology of cancer risk associated with early changes in stem and progenitor cells is important to reduce or prevent cancer risk.

Similarly, understanding the identity and function of primitive cells with malignant properties may provide critical information about cancer stem cells and their role in the disease progression and therapy resistance.

Dr. Kannan's lab currently focuses on understanding the influences of genetics and aging on human mammary gland development and breast cancer initiation.

About Dr. Kannan's laboratory

Dr. Kannan's lab conducts both basic and translational research. The lab needs creative and competent students, trainees and staff who can further empower the laboratory through their rigorous learning and dedication.

The Stem Cell and Cancer Biology Laboratory provides clean rooms with standard facilities for mammalian tissue and cell culture; lentiviral culture; bacterial culture; custom built hypoxic workstations; state-of-the-art multimode and high-content imagers; and standard molecular biology and biochemistry work benches.

Other facilities to which the lab's trainees have access include digital PCR, 10x Genomics, nanostring technology, mass and flow cytometers (analyzers and sorters), confocal laser microscopes and animal facilities.

As a faculty member of the NCI-funded Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Dr. Kannan has access to 13 core labs and shared resources including Bioinformatics, Biospecimens Accessioning and Processing, Biostatistics, Cytogenetics, Gene Analysis, Gene and Virus Therapy, Microscopy and Cell Analysis, Pathology Research, Pharmacology, Pharmacy, Proteomics, Survey Research Center, and Transgenic and Knockout.

In addition, lab trainees have access to cutting-edge technologies through Mayo Clinic core resources and several other opportunities for professional development and leadership.

About Dr. Kannan

Nagarajan Kannan, Ph.D., is a senior associate consultant and a faculty member in the Division of Experimental Pathology and Laboratory Medicine within the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. Dr. Kannan also is a faculty member of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center.