Dr. Kuspa is Senior Vice President for Research at Baylor College of Medicine. He received his BA in Biochemistry from the University of California at San Diego, his PhD in biochemistry from Stanford University and he served as an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at San Diego. He joined the Baylor College of Medicine faculty in 1993 as an assistant professor of biochemistry and has been involved in several programs, including Developmental Biology and Molecular and Human Genetics, as well as the Human Genome Sequencing Center. Dr. Kuspa was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2005. He served as chair of the Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry from March 2006 to April 2011, and was named to head Baylor College of Medicine’s research enterprise in July 2010. In addition to working at many levels to achieve the college’s strategic vision in research, Dr. Kuspa’s own federally funded laboratory currently investigates how eukaryotic cells kill bacteria.
Dr. Kuspa’s interests include the signaling systems that regulate the development and cell differentiation of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, and the recognition of bacteria by amoeba. He directed the consortium that completed the first genome sequence of an amoeba, uncovering genes previously thought to be specific to animals or plants. Recently, he discovered an innate immune system in the social amoeba that utilizes protein homologs found in similar systems in plants and animals, suggesting a common evolutionary origin for bacterial recognition by eukaryotes. Collaborative efforts include the development of functional genomic tools, such as the use of global transcriptional profiling for genetic epistasis analyses and the genetic analysis of the evolution of eusociality that has identified numerous pathways involved in the stabilization of cellular cooperation.