Chrissa Kioussi grew up in Athens, at the foothills of Akropolis during the school year and on the Aegean islands during the summer. She graduated from the University of Athens with a major in Biology and a Diploma in Biochemistry (1987). She earned her PhD from the Hellenic Pasteur Institute in 1992, working with Rebecca Matsas on neuropeptides. She discovered her love for developmental biology and mouse molecular genetics during her postdoctoral years at the Max-Plack Institute of Biophysical Chemistry in Germany, working with Peter Gruss.  Dr Kioussi crossed the Atlantic to join the lab of Geoff Rosenfeld at HHMI-UCSD in California, to research the transcriptional regulation of homeobox genes during organ formation.  She brought this expertise to the Pacific Northwest in 2002, when she established her lab at Oregon State University.



Organ Development and Tissue Regeneration

The goal of regenerative medicine is to build body parts to correct birth defects in newborns or replace body parts in the aging. Mammalian cells that are reset to the proper developmental state appear to have the ability to integrate into aged or improperly formed tissues and organs. Such reprogrammed cells may potentially form replacement body parts. Prior to realizing this potential, it will be necessary to understand the underlying mechanisms that mammalian genomes use to create the many cell, tissue, and organ types of mammals. Cell types are defined at the molecular level during embryogenesis by a process called pattern formation. The Kioussi lab is interested to study the developmental programs that define the sets of genes available to each particular cell type in the body, and the biochemical signaling interactions used at any given time and place.


Congenital myopathies and muscular dystrophies cause reduction of muscle size, loss of muscle tone, muscle weakness and locomotive disabilities. During embryogenesis, sequential phases of myogenesis lead to the formation of the skeletal musculature. We study the transcriptional regulation of gene expression that is involved in pattern formation and the commitment of undifferentiated cells to specific developmental pathways.


Congenital heart defects in humans occur in approximately 1% of live births and are a leading cause of miscarriages. Gene mutations that affect the formation of the heart, lead to congenital malformations. One of the most important reasons for this high incidence in congenital heart defects is that the heart is the first organ to form and must be active at all stages as it develops its remarkably complex structure. We try to understand the mechanisms of many human congenital cardiac syndromes and defects at the cellular and molecular level, which ultimately lead to treatments and cures.

Cell Reprogramming

Adult somatic cells are tightly fixed into stable cellular states by epigenetic mechanisms that consolidate the transcriptional network states achieved during pattern formation in embryogenesis.  The sustained artificial expression of specific combinations of transcription factors can eventually reprogram cells to a different developmental state.  We are trying to convert adult biopsy cell cultures into specific neurons, muscles or cardiomyocytes.  We are creating co-expression systems to transiently sustain specific combinations of transcription factors in biopsied cells to test the idea that reprogramming can occur directly to other cell types. This would considerably simplify creation of specific cell types for medical applications and would directly test the hypothesis that transcriptional network states specify cell types during pattern formation.

Sania Mahangave

Thai Tran, PharmD

Arun Singh, PhD, OHSU

Vera Chang

Merveen Appu, MS, MD

Christopher Barnhard

Shachi Bhatt,MS, Stowers institute, KS

Giao Bui

Alex Cabrera

Melissa Calhoun

Adam Campbell, PhD, Abcam, Eugene OR

Erik Coffman, PharmD

Diana Eng, PhD

Axel Groß

Traci Hilton, PhD OHSU, OR

Kinsley Hubel

Elisabeth Humphrey

Nick Leid, PharmD 2015, OSU

Jack Loflin, Salem OR

Jane Menino, OSU Corvallis OR

Emily McFarland

Kevin Meeuwsen, MD

Coral Nash, NP, Portland OR

Brett Palama, PhD

Nisha Panchal, PharmD 2017, OSU

Chrissy Rains, DVM 2014 OSU

Jeremi Runyan

Steve Scott

Hung-Ping Shih, PhD, UCSD, CA

Chelsea Smith, PharmD 2014, OSU

AJ Sowels, PharmD 2014 OSU

Milky Tesfaye

Belinda Vanstauben

Janae Winden, PharmD 2015, OSU

Kaylin Winden, PharmD 2015, OSU

Kha Wu, PharmD 2016, OSU

Jun Xu, PhD, UCSD CA

Hsiao-Yen Ma, PhD

Seida Zaarpoor