Associate Professor Kiarash Khosrotehrani
Associate Professor Kiarash Khosrotehrani

What is your area of research?
My research focuses on our responses to tissue injury. These responses involve stem cells and our regenerative capacities and they have been inherited during the evolution of many species making them extremely efficient and complex processes. As a dermatologist I prefer to focus my interest on the skin. The skin is permanently injured by the ultraviolet light it receives from the sun, but also from traumatic lesions leading to wounds. Finally, our body also considers a tumour as some sort of injury and triggers very similar responses that benefit tumour growth. Understanding these processes are key in my mind to many of the health challenges that we are facing.

What have been the major milestones in your research to date and what do they mean to the public?
We have developed elegant tools to study the behavior of stem and progenitor cells in response to injury in vivo. This has allowed us a better characterization of the cells that form the walls of blood vessels in unprecedented detail allowing us to isolate and expand these cells for treatment of cardiovascular disorders, but also to understand the importance of the cells forming the vessels that will supply blood, oxygen and nutrients to tumours allowing their growth.

Another exciting area has been to observe in our models the changes that occur in the skin upon UV exposure. This is certainly the very first step towards skin cancer development and it has been interesting to detect some of these changes at such an early stage.

Where do you think your area of research will be 10 years from now?
10 years from now, I believe we will be in a position to characterize many of our observed changes at the molecular level. The transition of findings from the laboratory to the clinic will certainly be facilitated through genomic medicine.

It will be possible to translate gene expression or gene mutation signatures with risk of progression to cancer or to metastasis.

What are the major scientific challenges facing your area research?
The main challenge is a technological one. As we are understanding more about the processes involved in the response to injury, we are also seeing the complexity and heterogeneity of cells that we once thought equivalent.

The main challenge currently is to dissect this complexity by being able to analyse and work with ever smaller quantities of material, down to a single cell or a single molecule at the surface of a cell. This requires a new set of tools that are certainly being developed but are not yet mainstream.

Who has been/is the biggest influence on your science career and why?
I have had very strong and influential clinical mentors, all being remarkable clinician scientists. Prof Selim Aractingi, a dermatologist from France, Prof Diana Bianchi a pediatrician and geneticist in Boston are the two main people who have oriented my career.

Who do you admire most in science at present?
I do admire many people for their dedication to research and their research quality regardless of how successful they are regarding the usually used metrics. However if I had to name a high flyer, I would consider that Prof Cedric Blanpain has been one of the most influential people in my field in the past ten years.

What do you like to do when you're not in the lab?
I am an avid reader of newspapers, especially around French and European politics. Another passion of mine is to watch the TED talk series that I find fascinating.

Which 8 people would you invite to your dream dinner party and why?
Eight of my best friends from Medical School. Because life is short and I don’t have the opportunity to see them often.

If you were to define science, how would you complete this sentence: "Science is....?"
Science is perpetual instability

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