Kenneth Dorshkind, PhD

Kenneth Dorshkind, Ph.D. 

Distinguished Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine


Kenneth Dorshkind, Ph.D., studies how blood-forming stem cells give rise to B and T lymphocytes, immune cells that are central to the function of the immune system. He hopes that learning more about early lymphocyte development will provide a basis for understanding the causes of certain blood cancers, such as leukemia, and reveal how age-related declines in lymphocyte production affect immunity in the elderly.

B cells are produced in the bone marrow and T cells are produced in the thymus, which is located in front of the heart. Dorshkind aims to identify the internal and external signals that regulate the initial formation of these crucial immune cells during fetal development and to understand how aging compromises the generation of new lymphocytes. Recent work from his lab has provided insights into the initial development of immune cells in the fetus. These efforts resulted in the identification of a precursor for a specialized type of B lymphocyte, referred to as a B-1 B cell, which plays a key role in protection against certain bacterial infections. His work has also shown that the process of lymphocyte development is regulated by different genes and molecules in fetal development versus adulthood. These studies are also uncovering the origins of B acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL), which is the most common childhood cancer.  Many of the genetic mutations that underlie this cancer begin during fetal development, and the Dorshkind laboratory has shown that cases of B-ALL that originate in B-1 precursors are highly aggressive.

Another key aim of the Dorshkind lab's research is to define the cellular and molecular changes that result in the age-related decline in lymphocyte production. He is particularly interested in how the increased production of inflammatory cytokines – chemical messengers that promote inflammation – contributes to this altered pattern of blood cell production. He hopes the findings from this work will inform the development of new therapies that rejuvenate the aging immune system by increasing the generation of lymphocytes.  

Dorshkind earned a doctorate in biological structure from University of Washington and completed post-doctoral training at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Ontario, Canada.


Honors & Affiliations


  • Walford Lectureship, UCLA, 2018
  • MERIT Award, National Institutes of Health, 2009


  • Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program Area, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • UCLA Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology Graduate Programs in Bioscience Home Area
  • American Association of Immunologists


Dorshkind’s research is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute on Aging.