• Ph.D., Cell Biology, 1993, Baylor College of Medicine
  • B.A., Chemistry, 1983, Hendrix College

Research Interests

Dr. Kesterson is Professor of Cancer Precision Medicine and Director of the Genetically Engineered Models (GEMs) core facility at Pennington Biomedical Research Center (effective August 1, 2022).  He is also Director of the UAB U54 Pilot Center for Precision Animal Modeling Disease Modeling Unit. He has broad expertise in creating and phenotyping animal models of disease. His laboratory is currently examining molecular mechanisms associated with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1) and developing gene therapy approaches using numerous “humanized” mouse and rat models as well as cell lines (ES and iPSCs) harboring NF1 mutations found in patients.

The Kesterson laboratory uses genetically modified mouse and rat models to study numerous physiological and behavioral processes. Most recently, research interests are focused on Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), a dominantly transmitted genetic disorder that leads to benign and malignant tumors of the nerve sheath, gliomas, juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, and breast cancer. Studies examine molecular mechanisms associated with NF1 in which we have created several “humanized” rodent models and iPS cell lines harboring both missense and nonsense mutations found in patients. In each case, the newly created alleles are based on recurring variations found in NF1 patients, and will address our overall hypothesis that mutation guided therapy will slow or reverse tumor growth in animals that harbor recapitulated Nf1 mutations. 

Selected Publications

  1. Leier A, Moore M, Liu H, Daniel M, Hyde AM, Messiaen L, Korf BR, Selvakumaran J, Ciszewski L, Lambert L, Foote J, Wallace MR, Kesterson RA, Dickson G, Popplewell L, and Wallis D. Targeted exon skipping of NF1 exon 17 as a therapeutic for neurofibromatosis type 1. Mol Ther Nucleic Acids. 2022 Mar 15; 28:261-278
  2. Awad, E.K., Moore, M., Liu, H., Ciszewski, L., Lambert, L.J., Korf, B.R., Popplewell, L.,*Wallis, D. and *Kesterson, R.A. Restoration of normal NF1 function with antisense morpholino treatment of recurrent pathogenic patient-specific variant c.1466A>G; p.Y489C. J Pers Med. 2021 Dec 7;11(12):1320. *Co-senior author
  3. Leier A, Bedwell DM, Chen AT, Dickson G, Keeling KM, Kesterson RA, Korf BR, Marquez Lago TT, Müller UF, Popplewell L, Zhou J, Wallis D. Mutation-Directed Therapeutics for Neurofibromatosis Type I. Mol Ther Nucleic Acids. 2020 Jun 5;20:739-753.
  4. Carnes RM, Mobley JA, Crossman DK, Liu H, Korf BR, Kesterson RA, Wallis D. Multi-Omics Profiling for NF1 Target Discovery in Neurofibromin (NF1) Deficient Cells. Proteomics. 2019 Jun;19(11)
  5. Dischinger PS, Tovar EA, Essenburg CJ, Madaj ZB, Gardner EE, Callaghan ME, Turner AN, Challa AK, Kempston T, Eagleson B, Kesterson RA, Bronson RT, Bowman MJ, Graveel CR, Steensma MR. NF1 deficiency correlates with estrogen receptor signaling and diminished survival in breast cancer. NPJ Breast Cancer. 2018 Aug 30; 4:29
  6. Wallis D, Li K, Lui H, Hu K, Chen MJ, Li J, Kang J, Das S, Korf BR, Kesterson RA. Neurofibromin (NF1) genetic variant structure-function analyses using a full-length mouse cDNA. Hum Mutat. 2018 Jun;39(6):816-
  7. Li K, Turner AN, Chen M, Brosius SN, Schoeb TR, Messiaen LM, Bedwell DM, Zinn KR, Anastasaki C, Gutmann DH, Korf BR, Kesterson RA. Mice with missense and nonsense NF1 mutations display divergent phenotypes compared with human neurofibromatosis type I. Dis Model Mech. 2016 Jul 1;9(7):759-67.
  8. Toonen JA, Anastasaki C, Smithson LJ, Gianino SM, Li K, Kesterson RA, Gutmann DH. NF1 germline mutation differentially dictates optic glioma formation and growth in neurofibromatosis-1. Hum Mol Genet. 2016 May 1;25(9):1703-13.