Karen received her BS from the Caltech and her PhD from the University of California, San Francisco. After a brief time at Harvard Medical School and the Carnegie Institute of Washington in Baltimore, she conducted postdoctoral work at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg and the Max Planck Institute for Cell Biology & Genetics in Dresden. Since November 2002, she has headed a research group in San Diego, where she is Professor of Cellular & Molecular Medicine at UC San Diego and Head of the Laboratory of Mitotic Mechanisms in the San Diego branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. Her research interests are centered on the interface between cell and cancer biology. Her work is focused on mechanistic approaches to dissect the molecular machinery that controls cell division and development, and how variation in the cell division machinery between cell types can be exploited to engineer chemotherapeutic strategies. A parallel focus has been the development of high-content imaging-based screening approaches, which her group is employing to dissect mitotic pathways in different human cell types and functionally profile genes specifically required for morphogenesis during embryonic development.