Winston P. Kuo, DDS, DMSc
Dr. Winston Kuo received his bachelor’s degree in biology from the State University of New York at Albany, and his dental degree from Columbia University. He completed a two-year dental general practice residency program at Catholic Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and obtained his pediatric dentistry specialty from the University of Southern California and Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center in California. In 2005, Dr. Kuo completed his dental informatics and oral medicine specialty training and his DMSc in oral biology at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. As part of his informatics training at HSDM, he completed his master’s of science in medical informatics (a concentration in bioinformatics) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship in Arhat Abzhanov’s lab.
In 2007, Dr. Kuo established the Laboratory for Innovative Translational Technologies (LITT) at HSDM to provide the Harvard research community with early access to enabling leading-edge genomic and proteomic technologies, which is now an integral part of the Harvard Catalyst clinical and translational science center. Dr. Kuo is currently the director of the Harvard Catalyst Laboratory for Innovative Translational Technologies (HC-LITT).
Fields of Interest
Dr. Kuo’s research involves the application of genomic and proteomic technologies two broad areas: craniofacial development and oral cancer.
Dr. Kuo’s craniofacial research focuses on roles of microRNAs in craniofacial development. Craniofacial abnormalities are some of the most common structural birth defects that are often associated with developmental disabilities, abnormalities to brain maturation, hearing loss, and functional problems related to breathing, eating, and speech. Impaired cranial bone formation and remodeling can contribute to many of these craniofacial abnormalities, such as Apert’s, Crouzon’s, Treacher-Collins, Pierre Robin Complex, hemifacial microsomia, etc. Great strides have been made in identifying the genetic etiologies of a number of syndromes, though the pathogenesis of the developing cranial skeletal structures still remains poorly understood. A conditional knock-out mutation in Dicer, which is involved in microRNA processing, with several cre-LoxP lines that target various craniofacial and skeletal tissues and structures, will be used to describe the overall roles for miRNAs in craniofacial development. Preliminary results demonstrate a profound yet specific intramebranous (dermal) bone phenotype. Dr. Kuo’s goal is to improve characterization of the nature of miRNA involvement and to search for specific microRNAs involved in cranial development. In addition, he plans to incorporate the transcriptional activity of multiple skeletogenic markers and signaling molecules using microRNA and DNA microarrays, and of key classes of kinase-dependent pathways using kinase-protein chips.
Dr. Kuo’s research in oral cancer involves the mining and analysis of data for a panel of biomarkers that will allow for the identification of molecularly premalignant lesions as well as histologic dysplastic lesions, which are more likely to progress to cancer. Such identification would be of great value, as early detection has the greatest impact on survival rates for oral cancer. Accordingly, gene expression profiling of microdissected keratinocytes from biopsies containing normal mucosal tissue and invasive HNSCC will be performed to define a set of genes with marked alteration in expression in the course of carcinogenic transformation. These potential markers will then be subjected to a two-step validation process to determine their potential utility as biomarkers for two distinct phases of cancer progression.