Kevin Eggan, Ph.D.
Principal Faculty, Harvard Stem Cell Institute
Institute Member, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Dr. Kevin Eggan is internationally recognized for his seminal research and high-profile awards, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” in 2006. He has made fundamental contributions to the fields of stem cell biology and cellular reprogramming, which in turn led his group to pioneer an entirely new strategy for studying human disease.
While training, Dr. Eggan performed nuclear transfer studies that challenged preconceived notions concerning the limits of cellular plasticity. His own lab was the first to demonstrate that human somatic cells could be reprogrammed to an embryonic stem (ES) cell state. This has been cited as an inspiration for the discovery of factors used to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). His lab was also the first to generate patient-specific iPSCs and use them to produce the cell type that degenerated in that individual. As these patients suffered from ALS, he was inspired to explore stem cells as a renewable source of motor neurons for studying mechanisms leading to neural degeneration. These experiments were the first “stem cell models” of disease and enabled the discovery that astrocytes are important non-cell autonomous contributors to motor neuron degeneration in ALS. Subsequently, Dr. Eggan’s group used this novel approach to study disorders that were intractable in rodents, discover new mechanisms that lead to motor neuron degeneration, and to identify a candidate ALS therapeutic.
Dr. Eggan completed his B.S. in microbiology at the University of Illinois in 1996, and completed a two-year pre-doctoral internship at Amgen at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. He attended the graduate school of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and during his Ph.D. training actively pursued projects focused on cloning, stem cells, and reprogramming after nuclear transfer under the guidance of genetics pioneer, Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch. Dr. Eggan did postdoctoral training in the Jaenisch lab, conducting a collaborative study with Dr. Richard Axel, a Nobel Prize winner at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He then moved to Harvard University as a junior fellow and went on to become an assistant professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the Stem Cell Institute in 2005.
In 2009, Dr. Eggan was selected as one of 50 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientists, receiving six years of dedicated support to conduct transformative research. He was promoted to Professor in HSCRB in 2012. The success of his laboratory in the study of motor neuron disease led to his appointment as the Director of the Stem Cell Program at the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute. In this role, he is leading a group of scientists to expand the platform to increase reproducibility of stem cell and reprogramming technologies with the ultimate goal of improving understanding and treatment of psychiatric diseases.