Kassem/Jafari Group

Morphogenesis and Differentiation Program

Research Interests

Our research has been focused on understanding the biology of mesenchymal (skeletal) stem cells, their role in skeletal tissue homeostasis, and their applications in regenerative medicine and cell-based therapies.

Current Project Areas

  • Understanding mechanisms regulating differentiation fate of mesenchymal (skeletal) stem cells (MSC)
  • Role of MSC-secreted factors in pathophysiology of cancer/inflammation-induced bone loss
  • Role of complement system in regulation of stem cell differentiation
  • Understanding the biology of bone marrow adipose tissue and its contribution to systemic energy metabolism

Selected publications

  • Simonsen JL, Rosada C, Serakinci N, Justesen J, Stenderup K, Rattan SI, Jensen TG, Kassem M. Telomerase expression extends the proliferative life-span and maintains the osteogenic potential of human bone marrow stromal cells. Nat Biotechnol. 2002 Jun;20(6):592-6.

  • Kratchmarova I, Blagoev B, Haack-Sorensen M, Kassem M, Mann M. Mechanism of divergent growth factor effects in mesenchymal stem cell differentiation. Science. 2005 Jun 3;308(5727):1472-7.

  • Kassem M, Burns J, Abd-Allah B. Blood vessels engineered from human cells. Lancet. 2005 Sep 10-16;366(9489):891-2

  • Rigbolt KT, Prokhorova TA, Akimov V, Henningsen J, Johansen PT, Kratchmarova I, Kassem M, Mann M, Olsen JV, Blagoev B. System-wide temporal characterization of the proteome and phosphoproteome of human embryonic stem cell differentiation. Sci Signal. 2011 Mar 15;4(164):rs3

  • Eskildsen T, Taipaleenmäki H, Stenvang J, Abdallah BM, Ditzel N, Nossent AY, Bak M, Kauppinen S, Kassem M. MicroRNA-138 regulates osteogenic differentiation of human stromal (mesenchymal) stem cells in vivo. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011 Apr 12;108(15):6139-44.

  • Kristensen LP, Chen L, Nielsen MO, Qanie DW, Kratchmarova I, Kassem M, Andersen JS. Temporal profiling and pulsed SILAC labeling identify novel secreted proteins during ex vivo osteoblast differentiation of human stromal stem cells. Mol Cell Proteomics. 2012 Oct;11(10):989-1007

  • Abdallah BM, Ditzel N, Laborda J, Karsenty G, Kassem M. DLK1 Regulates Whole-Body Glucose Metabolism: A Negative Feedback Regulation of the Osteocalcin-Insulin Loop. Diabetes. 2015 Sep;64(9):3069-80

  • Jafari A, Siersbaek MS, Chen L, Qanie D, Zaher W, Abdallah BM, Kassem M. Pharmacological Inhibition of Protein Kinase G1 Enhances Bone Formation by Human Skeletal Stem Cells Through Activation of RhoA-Akt Signaling. Stem Cells. 2015 Jul;33(7):2219-31

  • Jafari A, Qanie D, Andersen TL, Zhang Y, Chen L, Postert B, Parsons S, Ditzel N, Khosla S, Johansen HT, Kjærsgaard-Andersen P, Delaisse JM, Abdallah BM, Hesselson D, Solberg R, Kassem M. Legumain Regulates Differentiation Fate of Human Bone Marrow Stromal Cells and Is Altered in Postmenopausal Osteoporosis. Stem Cell Reports. 2017 Feb 14;8(2):373-386


Our group has been engaged in teaching activities at different levels (medical students, bachelor, Master, PhD programs) and research training of post docs and international researchers.


Our current international collaborators are from: Mayo Clinic (USA), Garvan Insitute (Australia), University of Oslo (Norway), Imperial College London (UK).