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Karen Crasta

Karen Crasta-01 (Custom).jpg

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



  • Rekha Jakhar, PhD, Research Fellow
  • Monique Luijten, PhD, Research Fellow
  • Jocelyn Teo, Research Assistant
  • Bryan Lim, 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). She is also Joint Principal Investigator at NTU School of Biological Sciences and Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB).

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 A*STAR, IMCB as a Senior Research Fellow to further her interests in examining genomic instability in human cancers.

A/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).

Research Focus
How does chromosomal instability (aneuploidy, point mutations and structural changes such gene rearrangements or translocations) lead to tumour development and other age-associated diseases? Why is ageing the biggest risk factor for cancer? How do stromal cells participate in cancer progression? How do tumours acquire resistance to chemotherapy? What can we do to prevent the side-effects and toxicity of chemotherapy? 

The lab's research aims to identify novel cellular targets that could be of relevance to the development of combination therapies to improve sensitisation of tumour cells, as well as provide insights into chemoresistance, a major setback in oncology. The lab has recently identified a novel route to chemoresistance upon antimitotic chemotherapy (most-commonly used front-line therapy in a wide spectrum of cancers). Findings based on this have led to pilot clinical trials at National Cancer Center Singapore. Current studies in the lab are now focused on elucidating the influence on immune function (both innate and adaptive), understanding the impact of the tumour microenvironment in dictating cell death versus survival during chemotherapy, as well as profiling global genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and lipidomic changes. Results obtained will aid illuminate the role of abnormal mitosis/aneuploidy and associated altered cell signalling, metabolic and immune changes in cancer progression and therapy. They also seek to better understand the impact on age-related tumour microenvironment on tumour cell intrinsic mechanisms and vice versa, as well study the influence of external environmental/lifestyle influences (such as physical exercise, drug toxicity) on genome plasticity and immune function.

We employ a range of complementary strategies to address these questions including cell biology and biochemical approaches, pro-tumourigenic assays, high-resolution microscopy, single-cell DNA damage and repair assays, high-content drug screening, karyotypic analyses, laser microdissection, mouse models of cancer, 3D co-culture systems, computational approaches, and analysis of patient samples in collaboration with our clinical colleagues. Our ultimate goal is to apply this knowledge to the clinic from a chromosomal instability perspective. 

Lab Funding: 
NTU Start-up Grant (2013-2019): PI
NRF Fellowship (2013-2018): PI
MOE AcRF Tier 1 (2016-2019): PI
MOE AcRF Tier 2 (2019-2022): PI
NTU EdeX Grant (2019-2020): PI 

NRF Proof-of Concept (2014-2015): Co-PI 
MOE AcRF Tier 1 (2016-2019): Co-PI
MOE AcRF Tier 2 (2016-2019): Co-PI
NMRC CSA (2018-2020): Co-I 

Karen Crasta's Lab (custom size) (Custom).jpg
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Selected Publications​


khar, R., & Crasta, K. (2019). Exosomes as emerging pro-tumorigenic mediators of the senescence-associated secretory phenotype. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 20, 2547.​

Wong AXF, Chen S, Yang LK, Yoganathan K, Crasta KC. (2018). Lipid accumulation facilitates mitotic slippage-induced adaptation to anti-mitotic drug treatment. Cell Death Discovery, 4, 109. 

Shyu PJ, Wong AXF, Crasta KC, et al. (2018). Dropping in on lipid droplets: insights into cellular stress and cancer progression. Bioscience Reports. 38(5). BSR20180764.

He Q, Au B, ..., & Crasta KC. (2018). Chromosomal instability-induced senescence potentiates cell non-autonomous tumourigenic effects​. Oncogenesis. 7(8): 62-79.

akhar R, Luijten MNH, ..., & Crasta KC. (2018). Autophagy governs pro-tumourigenic effects of mitotic slippage-induced senescence. Molecular Cancer Research. 16(11): 1625-1640. (Featured in "Highlights of this issue")

uijten MNH, Lee JXT, & Crasta KC. (2018). Mutational game changer: Chromothripsis and its emerging relevance to cancer.​ Mutatation Research/Reviews in Mutation Research. 777:29-51. 

Luijten MNH, Lee JXT, ..., & Crasta KC. (2018). Generation of micronuclei and detection of chromosome pulverization. Methods in Molecular Biology. 1769:183-95.

Cheng B, & Crasta K. (2017). Consequences of mitotic slippage for anti-microtubule therapy. Endocrine-Related Cancer. 24(9):T97-T106.

CrastK, Aneja R. (2017). 50 years on... the delivery of tubulin advances cancer treatment. Endocrine-Related Cancer. 24(9): E3-E5.

Cheng B, & Crasta K. (2017). Autophagy, senescence and cancer In E. Wong (Ed.), Autophagy and Signalling (71-96) in Autophagy and Signaling. Boca Raton, FL, CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.

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