About Kathrin

Kathrin Plath, Ph.D.

is a Professor of Biological Chemistry at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. Born in Germany, she received her master’s degree in Biochemistry at the Humboldt University in Berlin, examining MAP kinase signaling pathways. She joined the laboratory of Dr. Tom Rapoport at Harvard Medical School for her doctorate studies, where she studied how secretory proteins translocate through the endoplasmic reticulum membrane. She uncovered that secretory proteins insert into the translocation channel of the ER-membrane as a loop. Her work yielded a model of how the signal sequence initiates translocation across the membrane that is standing the test of time. Becoming excited about nuclear functions, for her postdoctoral studies with Dr. Barbara Panning at the University of California San Francisco and Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch at the Whitehead Institute at MIT, she turned to the question of how chromatin regulators function in mammalian development. She uncovered that Polycomb proteins can be recruited to their site of action by long non-coding RNAs and that this group of transcriptional repressors is important for the maintenance of pluripotency and developmental plasticity through the repression of developmental pathways. For her postdoctoral work, she received fellowships from the Life Sciences Research Foundation and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She joined the faculty at the University of California Los Angeles in 2006. She serves on the editorial boards of various journals including Cell, Cell Stem Cell, and Stem Cell Reports, and on the Board of Directors of the International Society for Stem Cell Research.