Ken Kemphues graduated from Northern Virginia Community College and finished his B.A. in Biology at the University of Virginia. He received his Ph.D. from Indiana University in Genetics and trained as an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of Colorado. He joined the Cornell Faculty in 1984.
My research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the establishment of cell polarity with a special emphasis on asymmetric cell divisions during embryonic development. This work has broad biological relevance since polarity is a central aspect of cellular function and organismal development and because defects in cell polarity have been implicated in cancer. The proteins we discovered and continue to study, the PAR proteins, have been found to be key components of systems for establishing polarity in a variety of cell types and a variety of animals, including humans. My overall objective is to contribute as much as possible to a complete molecular understanding of how cell polarity is established and maintained and how asymmetric divisions contribute to embryonic development.