Karla Kirkegaard, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Stanford University School of Medicine

Karla Kirkegaard, Ph.D. is Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine.  Her laboratory studies the biochemistry, cell biology, and genetics of RNA viral propagation.

Karla Kirkegaard earned her B.S. with honors in genetics from the University of California - Berkeley in 1976 and her Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) in 1983 for her work on the mechanisms of DNA topoisomerases in the laboratory of James C. Wang. For her postdoctoral work, she studied RNA virus replication at the Center for Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA) and at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research (Cambridge, MA) with David Baltimore. Her postdoctoral research showed that RNA recombination among poliovirus genomes occurs by a copy-choice mechanism, as opposed to the breaking-and-rejoining mechanisms common among DNA genomes.

After joining the faculty of the University of Colorado in Boulder in 1986, her laboratory continued to explore the genetics, biochemistry, and, eventually, the cell biology of RNA viral propagation. Despite having been appointed to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Colorado, Dr. Kirkegaard moved her laboratory to Stanford as an Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology in 1996. The laboratory's recent work has emphasized studies of the mechanism of the poliovirus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and its cooperative interaction with template RNAs, as well as the inhibition of protein secretion and evasion of the cellular immune response by non-enveloped RNA viruses.

Dr. Kirkegaard has received a number of awards including the Searle Scholar’s Award, a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship, an American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Research Award, and an appointment as an Ellison Senior Scholar in Global Infectious Disease.  In 2006, she was awarded a prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Pioneer Award, which will support her investigation of how the dengue, West Nile, hepatitis C, and polio viruses develop drug resistance and how to reduce the frequency of such occurrences.

Copyright 2006 - 2010. The Laboratory of Karla Kirkegaard, Ph.D. All rights reserved.