Jan Karlseder, PhD

Senior Vice President, Chief Science Officer

Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory

Donald and Darlene Shiley Chair

Salk Institute for Biological Studies - Videos


Profile of Jan Karlseder

Jan Karlseder is professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory and the Donald and Darlene Shiley Chair. He focuses on understanding the functions of mammalian telomeres and how broken DNA is repaired. Telomeres, the protein-DNA complexes at the ends of linear chromosomes, regulate DNA replication, aging and cancer initiation.

Click to read video transcript»

Targeting telomeres, the timekeepers of cells, could improve chemotherapy

In an unexpected finding, the Salk Institute and collaborators show how disabling telomere protection during cell division prompts cell death.

Telomeres, specialized ends of our chromosomes that dictate how long cells can continue to duplicate themselves, have long been studied for their links to the aging process and cancer. Now, a discovery at the Salk Institute shows that telomeres may be more central than previously thought to a self-destruct program in cells that prevents tumors, a function that could potentially be exploited to improve cancer therapies. Read more »

Sending out an SOS: How telomeres incriminate cells that can’t divide

Sending out an SOS: How telomeres incriminate cells that can’t divide

Salk scientists’ discovery explains how a class of chemotherapy drugs works

The well-being of living cells requires specialized squads of proteins that maintain order. Degraders chew up worn-out proteins, recyclers wrap up damaged organelles, and—most importantly—DNA repair crews restitch anything that resembles a broken chromosome. If repair is impossible, the crew foreman calls in executioners to annihilate a cell. As unsavory as this last bunch sounds, failure to summon them is one aspect what makes a cancer cell a cancer cell.
Read more »


BS, Biology, University of Innsbruck, Austria
PhD, Molecular Biology, University of Vienna
Postdoctoral Fellowship, The Rockefeller University, NY

Awards & Honors

  • Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging, 2009
  • Forbeck Scholar Award, 2002
  • The V Foundation Award for Developing Scientists, 2002
  • Charles H. Revson Fellowship, 1999
  • Human Frontiers Science Program Fellowship, 1997
  • European Molecular Biology Organization Fellowship, 1993