Keywords
Last Name

Karen Symes, PhD

TitleAssociate Professor
InstitutionBoston University School of Medicine
DepartmentBiochemistry
Address72 E. Concord St Silvio Conte (K)
Boston MA 02118
Phone(617) 638-4077
ORCID ORCID Icon0000-0002-1435-9618
Other Positions
TitleAssistant Dean
InstitutionBoston University School of Medicine
DepartmentStudent Affairs

TitleGraduate Faculty (Primary Mentor of Grad Students)
InstitutionBoston University School of Medicine, Division of Graduate Medical Sciences

 Research Expertise & Professional Interests
I lead the educational mission of the Department of Biochemistry. I chair the Department’s Curriculum Committee and am involved in curriculum development and research, course direction and teaching across the medical campus. In co-Chairing the committee appointed to redesign the GMS first year Ph.D. curriculum, input was sought from across the medical campus with representation from the nineteen Programs and Departments to create a completely new interdisciplinary modular curriculum, Foundations in Biomedical Sciences (FiBS). The educational structure was set up to encourage students to think in a rigorous and interdisciplinary fashion and involved reducing lecture hours and incorporating weekly small group discussions to critically evaluate scientific literature and workshops to practice the use of emerging technologies. Small groups are “near-peer” facilitated and composed of students with different scientific interests to provide a range of perspectives and to promote collegiality among doctoral students. In addition, to provide essential foundational skills required for lifelong learning and career development, critical thinking, problem solving, class participation and scientific writing are included in the evaluation process. Individualized oversight and help for students is provided through faculty accessibility, monitoring of performance, and tutoring. I am currently co- Chair the Steering Committee that oversees the FiBS curriculum, monitors student evaluation of the modules and conducts peer reviews. My laboratory focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms of cell motility, an essential component of normal biological processes such as embryonic development and wound healing, as well as critical in disease development and progression, and I am now co-Course director for the fourth core FiBS module, Mechanisms of Cell Communication.

In addition to being an Assistant Dean in the medical school’s Office of Student Affairs, I am responsible for coordinating the Biochemistry Departments teaching of medical students. Currently course director of the core first year course Biochemistry and Cell Biology, I am actively involved in the committee charged with the integration of the first year medical curriculum, which is evolving into an interdisciplinary modular design similar to FiBS.

 Publications
Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
List All   |   Timeline
  1. Gallan AJ, Offner GD, Symes K. Vertical integration of biochemistry and clinical medicine using a near-peer learning model. Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 2016 Nov 12; 44(6):507-516. PMID: 27123831.
    View in: PubMed
  2. Dasgupta S, Symes K, Hyman L. Leading change: curriculum reform in graduate education in the biomedical sciences. Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 2015 Mar-Apr; 43(2):126-32. PMID: 25735833.
    View in: PubMed
  3. Abali EE, Osheroff N, Buxbaum E, Niederhoffer EC, Symes K, Sanders M. Evolving Role of the Basic Science Course Director in an Integrated Curriculum. Medical Science Educator. 2014.
    View in: External Website
  4. Liu KW, Feng H, Bachoo R, Kazlauskas A, Smith EM, Symes K, Hamilton RL, Nagane M, Nishikawa R, Hu B, Cheng SY. SHP-2/PTPN11 mediates gliomagenesis driven by PDGFRA and INK4A/ARF aberrations in mice and humans. J Clin Invest. 2011 Mar; 121(3):905-17. PMID: 21393858.
    View in: PubMed
  5. Symes K, Smith EM, Mitsi M, Nugent MA. Sweet cues: How heparan sulfate modification of fibronectin enables growth factor guided migration of embryonic cells. Cell Adh Migr. 2010 Oct-Dec; 4(4):507-10. PMID: 20562530.
    View in: PubMed
  6. Smith EM, Mitsi M, Nugent MA, Symes K. PDGF-A interactions with fibronectin reveal a critical role for heparan sulfate in directed cell migration during Xenopus gastrulation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 22; 106(51):21683-8. PMID: 19966216.
    View in: PubMed
  7. Wu H, Symes K, Seldin DC, Dominguez I. Threonine 393 of beta-catenin regulates interaction with Axin. J Cell Biochem. 2009 Sep 1; 108(1):52-63. PMID: 19565571.
    View in: PubMed
  8. Malikova MA, Van Stry M, Symes K. Apoptosis regulates notochord development in Xenopus. Dev Biol. 2007 Nov 15; 311(2):434-48. PMID: 17920580.
    View in: PubMed
  9. Symes K. Analysis of Growth Factor Signaling in Xenopus. Whitman M and Sater AK eds. Investigating Gastrulation. CRC Press. Boca Raton. 2007; 339-368.
  10. Ren R, Nagel M, Tahinci E, Winklbauer R, Symes K. Migrating anterior mesoderm cells and intercalating trunk mesoderm cells have distinct responses to Rho and Rac during Xenopus gastrulation. Dev Dyn. 2006 Apr; 235(4):1090-9. PMID: 16493692.
    View in: PubMed
  11. Dominguez I, Mizuno J, Wu H, Imbrie GA, Symes K, Seldin DC. A role for CK2alpha/beta in Xenopus early embryonic development. Mol Cell Biochem. 2005 Jun; 274(1-2):125-31. PMID: 16342412.
    View in: PubMed
  12. Van Stry M, Kazlauskas A, Schreiber SL, Symes K. Distinct effectors of platelet-derived growth factor receptor-alpha signaling are required for cell survival during embryogenesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jun 7; 102(23):8233-8. PMID: 15919820.
    View in: PubMed
  13. Dominguez I, Mizuno J, Wu H, Song DH, Symes K, Seldin DC. Protein kinase CK2 is required for dorsal axis formation in Xenopus embryos. Dev Biol. 2004 Oct 1; 274(1):110-24. PMID: 15355792.
    View in: PubMed
  14. Nagel M, Tahinci E, Symes K, Winklbauer R. Guidance of mesoderm cell migration in the Xenopus gastrula requires PDGF signaling. Development. 2004 Jun; 131(11):2727-36. PMID: 15128658.
    View in: PubMed
  15. Van Stry M, McLaughlin KA, Ataliotis P, Symes K. The mitochondrial-apoptotic pathway is triggered in Xenopus mesoderm cells deprived of PDGF receptor signaling during gastrulation. Dev Biol. 2004 Apr 1; 268(1):232-42. PMID: 15031119.
    View in: PubMed
  16. Tahinci E, Symes K. Distinct functions of Rho and Rac are required for convergent extension during Xenopus gastrulation. Dev Biol. 2003 Jul 15; 259(2):318-35. PMID: 12871704.
    View in: PubMed
  17. Yang J, Symes K, Mercola M, Schreiber SL. Small-molecule control of insulin and PDGF receptor signaling and the role of membrane attachment. Curr Biol. 1998 Jan 1; 8(1):11-8. PMID: 9427627.
    View in: PubMed
  18. Symes K, Mercola M. Embryonic mesoderm cells spread in response to platelet-derived growth factor and signaling by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Sep 3; 93(18):9641-4. PMID: 8790383.
    View in: PubMed
  19. Ataliotis P, Symes K, Chou MM, Ho L, Mercola M. PDGF signalling is required for gastrulation of Xenopus laevis. Development. 1995 Sep; 121(9):3099-110. PMID: 7555734.
    View in: PubMed
  20. Ho L, Symes K, Yordán C, Gudas LJ, Mercola M. Localization of PDGF A and PDGFR alpha mRNA in Xenopus embryos suggests signalling from neural ectoderm and pharyngeal endoderm to neural crest cells. Mech Dev. 1994 Dec; 48(3):165-74. PMID: 7893600.
    View in: PubMed
  21. Symes K, Yordán C, Mercola M. Morphological differences in Xenopus embryonic mesodermal cells are specified as an early response to distinct threshold concentrations of activin. Development. 1994 Aug; 120(8):2339-46. PMID: 7925034.
    View in: PubMed
  22. Symes K, Weisblat DA. An investigation of the specification of unequal cleavages in leech embryos. Dev Biol. 1992 Mar; 150(1):203-18. PMID: 1371479.
    View in: PubMed
  23. DeSimone DW, Smith JC, Howard JE, Ransom DG and Symes K. Gastrulation movements, patterns, and molecules Keller R, Clark WH Jr, and Griffin F, eds. The expression of fibronectins and integrins during mesodermal induction and gastrulation in Xenopus. Plenum Press. New York. 1991; 185-198.
  24. Smith JC, Symes K, Hynes RO, DeSimone D. Mesoderm induction and the control of gastrulation in Xenopus laevis: the roles of fibronectin and integrins. Development. 1990 Feb; 108(2):229-38. PMID: 2351067.
    View in: PubMed
  25. Green JB, Howes G, Symes K, Cooke J, Smith JC. The biological effects of XTC-MIF: quantitative comparison with Xenopus bFGF. Development. 1990 Jan; 108(1):173-83. PMID: 2351061.
    View in: PubMed
  26. Cooke J, Symes K, Smith EJ. Potentiation by the lithium ion of morphogenetic responses to a Xenopus inducing factor. Development. 1989 Mar; 105(3):549-58. PMID: 2612365.
    View in: PubMed
  27. Smith JC, Cooke J, Green JB, Howes G, Symes K. Inducing factors and the control of mesodermal pattern in Xenopus laevis. Development. 1989; 107 Suppl:149-59. PMID: 2636136.
    View in: PubMed
  28. Symes K, Yaqoob M, Smith JC. Mesoderm induction in Xenopus laevis: responding cells must be in contact for mesoderm formation but suppression of epidermal differentiation can occur in single cells. Development. 1988 Dec; 104(4):609-18. PMID: 3268406.
    View in: PubMed
  29. Smith JC, Yaqoob M, Symes K. Purification, partial characterization and biological effects of the XTC mesoderm-inducing factor. Development. 1988 Jul; 103(3):591-600. PMID: 3246228.
    View in: PubMed
  30. Smith JC, Symes K, Heasman J, Snape A, Wylie CC. The Xenopus animal pole blastomere. Bioessays. 1987 Nov; 7(5):229-34. PMID: 3325052.
    View in: PubMed
  31. Symes K and Smith JC. Gastrulation movements provide an early marker of mesoderm induction in Xenopus laevis. Development. 1987; 101:339-349.
    View in: External Website
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