Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar
Melissa Lambeth Kemp received her B.S. in Nuclear Engineering from MIT and her Ph.D. in Bioengineering from University of Washington. Dr. Kemp joined the faculty at Georgia Tech in 2006 after completing postdoctoral training at MIT. Her expertise is in computational modeling of metabolism and signal transduction, as well as developing statistical modeling tools to examine network relationships in high-dimension datasets. One major aspect of her research program linking ROS – the byproducts of aerobic metabolism – to the fundamental way that cells interpret instructions from their environment, their neighbors, and their own genetic blueprint. Specific applications of her diverse work include systems modeling of transient phosphatase oxidation of kinase cascades, patient-specific differences in cytotoxicity to redox-cycled chemotherapeutics and radiation, and the coordination of oxidative metabolism with epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Her research program also includes a component of developing high-throughput screening methods for assaying cue-signal-response relationships in cells and analytical tools for single cell gene expression.
Dr. Kemp currently serves as the Research Director of the multi-site NSF Engineering Research Center “Cell Manufacturing Technologies”. In her former role as Associate Director of the NSF Science and Technology Center “Emergent Behavior of Integrated Cellular Systems”, she spearheaded the multi-site center’s computational activities by developing agent-based models of context-dependent cellular decisions to generate new hypotheses of intercellular communication in pluripotent stem cell differentiation and emergent patterning; this work continues currently in quantifying organizational principles and spatial relationships in iPSC-derived tissues from multi-omics data. Dr. Kemp’s career honors include a Whitaker Graduate Fellowship, Merck/CSBi postdoctoral fellowship, Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scholar, NIH New Innovator Award, and the CSB2 Prize for Innovative Measurement Methods from the Council for Systems Biology in Boston.
Georgia Institute of Technology
The Kemp Lab is focused on understanding how metabolism influences the decisions that cells make. Aging, stem cell differentiation, cancer metastasis, and inflammation rely on progressive changes in metabolism resulting in increased levels of reactive oxygen species. Collectively, the accumulation of these molecules is known as cellular oxidation, and pathological levels are referred to as oxidative stress. Our lab develops systems biology tools for investigating how cellular oxidation influences cellular fate and interpretation of cues from the extracellular environment. We are interested in the collective behavior that arises during stem cell differentiation, immune cell responses, or drug treatments from metabolic diversity in individual cells. Because of the numerous biochemical reactions involved, we develop computational models and analytical approaches to understand how complex protein network properties are influenced by redox-sensitive proteins; these proteins typically have reactive thiol groups that are post-translationally regulated in the presence of reactive oxygen species to alter activity and/or function. Experimentally, we develop novel high-throughput single cell techniques for the detection and quantification of intracellular oxidation.
Research Affiliations: Marcus Center for Therapeutic Cell Characterization and Manufacturing (MC3M), Regenerative Engineering and Medicine (REM), Integrated Cancer Research Center, Immunoengineering, Emergent Behavior of Integrated Cellular Systems, Center for ImmunoEngineering, Center for Integrative Genomics, Center for Pediatric Innovation (CPI)