Whitehead Fellow


Kristin Knouse

Scott Cook and Signe Ostby Fellow


knouse LAB


The loss of terminally differentiated cells critical for organ function underlies the lifelong morbidity of numerous diseases including heart attack, stroke, and neurodegeneration. In these cases, any remaining functional cells cannot replace the lost cells as the former have permanently exited the cell cycle as part of their differentiation process. Importantly, however, exit from the cell cycle is not an obligate consequence of differentiation. Some cells, including hepatocytes, exist in the reversible state of quiescence and retain the ability to re-enter the cell cycle. The Knouse lab at Whitehead Institute will use the mouse liver as a physiologic and tractable system to understand this unique feature of hepatocytes and thereby reveal novel approaches for regenerative medicine.

Kristin Knouse joined the Institute as a Whitehead Fellow in June 2018. She earned a B.S. in biology from Duke University in 2010 and then entered the Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) M.D.-Ph.D. Program, where she earned a Ph.D. through the MIT Department of Biology in 2016 and an M.D. through the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology in 2018.

Knouse conducted her doctoral research in the lab of MIT faculty member and former Whitehead Fellow Angelika Amon. There, she created tools to identify and characterize large-scale deletions and duplications in individual cells in mammalian tissues, including those caused by chromosome segregation defects. Then, to investigate chromosome segregation directly in tissues, she turned to liver regeneration, taking advantage of the fact that hepatocytes rapidly re-enter the cell cycle and divide following toxic injury or surgical resection of the organ. Her work revealed that the liver and other epithelial tissues depend on tissue architecture for chromosome segregation fidelity, a finding that could explain the high levels of chromosome instability in epithelial cancers and highlights the importance of the extracellular context in influencing fundamental cellular processes. Her work with liver regeneration, combined with her clinical training, inspired her to continue using the liver to study a different aspect of the cell cycle—quiescence.


  • Medical Scientist Training Program Fellowship (2010)
  • Henry Asbury Christian Award (2018)

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