Kenneth Y. Kwan, Ph.D.

Research Associate Professor, Michigan Neuroscience Institute
Associate Professor, Department of Human Genetics
(734) 615-2444

Areas of Interest

The evolution of the cerebral cortex is thought to underlie the human brain’s most remarkable cognitive, perceptive, and motor capabilities. Miswiring of cortical circuitry during development can lead to disorders, including autism and schizophrenia, that affect the most distinctly human cognitive functions.

The Kwan laboratory focuses on examining the fundamental and pathogenic mechanisms that can have in vivo consequences for neural circuit development and function. They aim to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie normal neural circuit assembly in the cerebral cortex, and the role circuit dysregulation plays in human neurodevelopmental disorders, in particular autism spectrum disorder, fragile X syndrome, and schizophrenia.

The lab’s overarching research goals are: 1) to understand the mechanisms by which neural progenitor cells give rise to diverse repertoires of cortical neuronal subtypes; and 2) to understand the mechanisms that ultimately wire cortical neurons into functional neural circuits. An integrative approach is used, combining mouse genetics, functional genomics, molecular biology and circuit neurobiology.


Read Dr. Kwan's recent Research Highlight: The genes that build the brain here!

Honors & Awards

2016   Fay/Frank Seed Grant Program, Brain Research Foundation
2015   Basil O’Connor Award, March of Dimes Foundation
2014   SFARI Explore Award, Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
2012   Pathway to Independence Award, National Institutes of Health


2008   Ph.D., Neuroscience, Yale University
2002   B.Sc., Biochemistry, University of Waterloo

Published Articles or Reviews

Nestin selectively facilitates the phosphorylation of the Lissencephaly-linked protein doublecortin (DCX) by cdk5/p35 to regulate growth cone morphology and Sema3a sensitivity in developing neurons.
Bott CJ, McMahon LP, Keil JM, Yap CC, Kwan KY, Winckler B. J Neurosci. 2020 Apr 6. pii: JN-RM-2471-19. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2471-19.2020. [Epub ahead of print]

A review of the manufacturing process and infection rate of 3D-printed models and guides sterilized by hydrogen peroxide plasma and utilized intra-operatively.
Shea GK, Wu KL, Li IW, Leung MF, Ko AL, Tse L, Pang SS, Kwan KY, Wong TM, Leung FK, Fang CX. 3D Print Med. 2020 Mar 30;6(1):7. doi: 10.1186/s41205-020-00061-w.

Identification and characterization of occult human-specific LINE-1 insertions using long-read sequencing technology.
Zhou W, Emery SB, Flasch DA, Wang Y, Kwan KY, Kidd JM, Moran JV, Mills RE. Nucleic Acids Res. 2020 Feb 20;48(3):1146-1163. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkz1173.

Robust elimination of genome-damaged cells safeguards against brain somatic aneuploidy following Knl1 deletion.
Shi L, Qalieh A, Lam MM, Keil JM, Kwan KY. Nat Commun. 2019 Jun 13;10(1):2588. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-10411-w.

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