Associate Prof Karen Crasta

Nanyang Associate Professor Karen Crasta
National Research Foundation Fellow
Principal Investigator, Genomic Instability and Cancer​ Laboratory

Laboratory Staff

    • Dr Guo Ke, PhD, Senior Research Fellow
    • Dr Cheng Bing, PhD, Research Fellow
    • Dr Rekha Jakhar, PhD, Research Fellow
    • Clement Chew Kai Hong, Research Assistant
    • Jeannie Lee Xue Ting, Research Assistant
    • Alex Wong Xing Fah, PhD Student
    • Qianqian He, PhD Student



Associate Professor Karen Crasta is a Nanyang Associate Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine), Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
After obtaining her BSc (Honors in Microbiology) at the National University of Singapore (NUS), she went on to receive her PhD in Cell Cycle Regulation at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, NUS where she studied the molecular circuits governing regulation of mitotic spindle assembly using budding yeast as a model system. She then undertook post-doctoral training at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA where she elucidated the mechanistic link between chromosome missegregation during mitosis and tumourigenesis in cancer cells. Upon her return to Singapore, she joined the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology as a Senior Research Fellow to further her interests in examining genomic instability in human cancers.
Assoc Prof Crasta was awarded the A*STAR International Fellowship from Singapore during her stint at Harvard. She has also been awarded the prestigious National Research Foundation (NRF) Fellowship and the Elite Nanyang Assistant Professorship (NAP).
Assoc Prof Crasta’s lab is located at LKCMedicine’sExperimental Medicine Building at NTU’s Yunnan Garden Campus.


Research Focus

Assoc Prof Crasta’s laboratory is focused on investigating the causes and consequences of abnormal mitotic events on the integrity of the genome. 

A primary goal of the lab is to identify and delineate molecular mechanisms that underlie events resulting from abnormal mitoses that can lead to possible structural chromosomal alterations and chromothripsis (massive genomic rearrangements due to random re-joining of shattered chromosomes). Assoc Prof Crasta and her team will be using cell biology, structural biology and functional genomics approaches to address this. 

Another interest of the lab lies in investigating the molecular determinants controlling decisions of cell fate upon treatment with anti-mitotic drugs. Despite utilization of anti-mitotic drugs as front-line therapy for many cancers, very little is known about the mechanism behind how the prolonged mitotic arrest induced upon treatment culminates in cell death. Thus, they  seek to elucidate mechanisms by which cells die, as well as how and why some cancer cells escape the arrest and survive. They will be taking a multidisciplinary approach and will utilize parallel integrative experimental (cell biology, genetics, biochemistry, high-resolution microscopy, chromosomal analyses, genome-wide RNAi screening) and biocomputational approaches to understand the intracellular dynamics governing cell fate decisions. 

Their research hopes to identify novel cellular targets that could be of relevance to the development of combination therapies to improve sensitization of tumour cells, as well as provide insights into chemoresistance, a major setback in oncology.

 LKCMedicine Research Spotlight


Key Publications

  1. Crasta K, Ganem NJ, Dagher R, Lantermann AB, Ivanova EV, Pan Y, Nezi L, Protopopov A, Chowdhury D, Pellman D. DNA breaks and chromosome pulverization from errors in mitosis. Nature (2012), 482: 53-8. 
    Highlighted in: 
      • Cancer Discovery, ResearchWatch, Micronuclear Chromosome Pulverization May Underlie Chromothripsis. 
      • Nature Reviews Cancer, Research Highlights, Shattered details. 
      • Nature Reviews Genetics, Research Highlights, Genomic Instability: Shattered details. 
      • The Scientist Magazine, Marooned Chromosomes Cause Cancer.
      • Ranked as “Must Read” by Faculty of 1000.
  2. Crasta K, Lim HH, Zhang T, Nirantar S, Surana U. Consorting kinases, end of destruction and birth of a spindle. Cell Cycle (2008); 7(19):2960-6.
  3. Crasta K, Lim HH, Giddings TH Jr, Winey M, Surana U. Inactivation of Cdh1 by synergistic action of Cdk1 and polo kinase is necessary for proper assembly of the mitotic spindle. Nat Cell Biol (2008); 10(6):665-75.
  4. Crasta K, Surana U. Disjunction of conjoined twins: Cdk1, Cdh1 and separation of centrosomes. Cell Div (2006), 1:12.
  5. Crasta K, Huang P, Morgan G, Winey M, Surana U.Cdk1 regulates centrosome separation by restraining proteolysis of microtubule-associated proteins. EMBO J (2006); 25(11):2551-63.
  6. Krishnan V, Nirantar S, Crasta K, Cheng AY, Surana U. DNA replication checkpoint prevents precocious chromosome segregation by regulating spindle behaviour. Mol Cell (2004); 16(5):687-700.
  7. Crasta KC, Chua KL, Subramaniam S, Frey J, Loh H, Tan HM. Identification and characterization of CAMP cohemolysin as a potential virulence factor of Riemerella anatipestifer.J Bacteriol (2002);184(7):1932-9.