Kaitlin (Kei) Katsura

Kei Katsura
Entered Program: 2012
Thesis Advisor: Pamela Den Besten, DDS, MS

Kei Katsura

Kei Katsura is a 7th-year DDS/PhD student from Orinda, CA and attended Middlebury College in Vermont, where she double majored in Biology and Spanish. Kei is passionate about understanding the mechanisms that control mineralization in health and disease. For her thesis, Kei is investigating how the intracellular WDR72 protein affects enamel matrix mineralization in the Den Besten Lab. Under the advisement of Drs. Thuan Le and Jeremy Horst, Kei first discovered a novel deletion mutation of the WDR72 gene in patients affected with Amelogenesis Imperfecta (AI) and used bioinformatics to model a protein structure of WDR72, predicting its function as a potentially novel vesicle coat protein. These findings led her to generate and characterize a WDR72 knockout mouse with Dr. Dave Chandra and has received an NIH-funded F30 grant to further determine the function of WDR72 in tooth mineralization. Kei has published her work in the peer-reviewed journal Matrix Biology, and is currently an Associate at Aloha Pediatric Dentistry. Throughout this journey, Kei has enjoyed integrating both clinical and scientific skill sets to provide better patient care and to progress our understanding of mineralized tissue regulation in health and disease. When Kei isn’t busy with patients and mice, she loves skiing with friends and family, and dancing to Bar Mitzvah music.