U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Kevin O'Connell

 Contact Info

Tel: 301-451-4557
Email: kevino@mail.nih.gov

 Select Experience

  • Senior InvestigatorNIDDK, NIH2010-present
  • InvestigatorNIDDK, NIH2002-2010
  • Assistant ScientistUniversity of Wisconsin1998-2002
  • NRSA FellowUniversity of Wisconsin1995-1998
  • Ph.D.University of Massachusetts Medical School1994
  • B.A.University of New Hampshire1986

 Related Links

  • Cell Biology/Cell Signaling
  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics/Genomics
  • Molecular Biology/Biochemistry
Research Summary/In Plain Language

Research in Plain Language

​The centrosome is a specialized component of animal cells that participates in a variety of essential cellular processes.  It does so through its ability to nucleate and organize microtubules, filamentous polymers that play a central role in the movement of cells and cellular constituents.  Our lab wants to understand how cells control centrosome number and size, parameters that are critical for proper centrosome function.  To address these questions, we use a much-studied worm called C. elegans as a model system.

In order for a cell to properly segregate its genetic material and divide, it needs to assemble a bipolar mitotic spindle, a macromolecular machine composed principally of microtubules.  The spindle has two basic functions.  It ensures that each of the two daughter cells inherits one full set of genetic information and it specifies the place where the mother cell will divide.  Disruption of the mechanisms that regulate centrosome number and size can result in aberrant spindles and the mis-segregation of genetic material, a common property of cancer cells.  We wish to understand how these mechanisms normally function and how disease may result when they are disrupted.