Maria Kasper

Maria Kasper

Principal Researcher | Docent
Telephone: +46852482939
Visiting address: Solnavägen 9, 17165
Postal address: C5 Cell- och molekylärbiologi, C5 CMB Kasper, 171 77 Stockholm

About me

  • Maria Kasper is Associate Professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. She earned her PhD in 2006 from the University of Salzburg in human genetics and molecular tumor biology. In 2013, after a 6-year postdoctoral training in Rune Toftgård’s lab in skin biology at Karolinska Institutet, she established her research group in skin biology (stem cells, tissue repair, cancer initiation, and single-cell transcriptomics). The Kasper lab studies spatiotemporal processes to investigate how hair growth is coordinated, skin regenerates, wounds heal, and epithelial tumors initiate. Dr. Kasper has received national and international recognitions for her work, such as the Swedish Cancer Society Young Investigator Award, Ragnar Söderberg Fellow in Medicine and the LEO Gold Award, and she is a coordinator of the Human Cell Atlas skin bionetwork.



  • We study the mammalian skin, which performs amazingly diverse tissue functions such as growing hair, ‘feeling’ touch, regulating body temperature, and generating a watertight body barrier. Today it is evident that these functions are coordinated by a wealth of specialized epithelial, mesenchymal, and immune cell populations, however only a decade ago, our understanding on skin cell-type diversity and their molecular programs has been scarce. To overcome this major limitation, my laboratory pioneered the molecular characterization of skin cells using scRNA-seq and generated detailed cellular atlases of adult mouse skin (Joost et al. Cell Systems 2016, Joost et al. Cell Reports 2018, Joost et al. Cell Stem Cell 2020). These studies revealed for example rare and novel cell populations, niche-dependent wound responses, and multi-lineage differentiation programs, but also enabled us to drive new concepts in skin and epithelial biology such as pinpointing the stem cell’s point of no return in the skin epidermis (Cockburn et al. Nature Cell Biology 2022), showing how wild-type cells can suppress oncogenic growth in mosaic skin (Gallini et al. Nature 2023), defining molecular and spatial landmarks of early skin and hair follicle development (Jacob et al. Developmental Cell 2023), and revealing how to induce new hair follicles in adult hairless skin (Sun et al. eLIFE 2020). 

  • Our current research builds on these works to answer fundamental questions about tissue homeostasis, repair, cancer and regeneration. By combing various murine and human skin models, scRNA-seq, multiplex in situ imaging and advanced computational analyses, our goal is to find regulatory mechanisms at the boundary of stem cell plasticity and reversibility, with the long-term aim to re- or de-activate tissue stem cells in a controlled manner.

    Big thanks to our current Research Support:
    2023-2026 Vetenskapsrådet (Swedish Research Council)
    2023-2027 Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
    2023-2026 Karolinska Institutet (KID - Ph.D. student financing)
    2022-2024 Cancerfonden (Swedish Cancer Society)
    2021-2025 Karolinska Institutet (KID: Ph.D. student financing)
    2020-2024 KI Consolidator Grant (Karolinska Institutet)
    2020-2024 EU-H2020-MSCA-ITN CancerPrev (main applicant: Cathrin Brisken, EPFL)
    2020-2023 LEO Foundation, Denmark


  • • Coordinator of Applied Communication in Biomedicine, international Master’s Program in Biomedicine at Karolinska Institutet (KI), main coordinator (2017, 2018), co-coordinator (2019).
    • Organizer for STRATCAN workshop: CRISPR/Cas9 system for in vitro &

  • in vivo use (Jan 2015, Jan 2016).
    • Lecturer for M.Sc. students of the Biomedicine Program at KI. Course titles: Biomedical communication (2011-2021).
    • Lecturer for Medical students at KI. Basic introduction to wound healing (since 2021).
    • Lecturer for Ph.D. students at the KI. Course title: Mouse Models of Human Cancer (2012-2015).
    • Lecturer for M.Sc. &
  • Ph.D. students at the KI (DBRM Research School). Course title: Developmental Biology for Regenerative Medicine (2013-2015).
    • Overall, extensive teaching experience at the basic and research education level (>
  • 500 teaching hours).


All other publications


  • Principal Researcher, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institutet, 2022-

Degrees and Education

  • Docent, Karolinska Institutet, 2021

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