Kenro Kusumi is director and professor of the School of Life Sciences and associate dean of strategic partnerships in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University. He received his BA from Harvard College in Biochemical Sciences and his PhD in Biology from MIT. He carried out postdoctoral training as a Hitchings-Elion Fellow of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund at the National Institute for Medical Research in London. Kusumi was previously faculty at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he served as director of pediatric orthopaedic research. At ASU, he has served in a number of roles including as associate dean of graduate programs, research and digital initiatives in The College. Kusumi helped to launch the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix in 2006, where he continues on the faculty in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences, and is adjunct faculty at the Translational Genomics Research Institute.
As director, Kusumi is responsible for over 6,100 undergraduate majors, including over 2,500 online students, 326 graduate students, 130 faculty, and 100 staff and academic professionals. The School of Life Sciences serves as a hub for the university’s biomedical and environmental initiatives and studies of their social impact and is a leader in the development of online programs and use of adaptive learning to promote student success. Kusumi is committed to developing equitable and inclusive programs for students, and he is working to create a more inclusive academic environment, including serving as mentor and faculty advisor in university LGBTQ organizations.
Kusumi’s research uses the power of genome biology to help conserve and study the functional adaptations of reptiles. Among the reptiles, more than half of the living turtle species are threatened with extinction, and Kusumi has sequenced the genome of the threatened Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) as a tool for conservation efforts. The anole lizards have been described as the “Darwin’s finches” of reptiles, and Kusumi has led the first genome-scale analysis of accelerated evolution associated with their functional adaptations. His group has also uncovered sets of genes that are critical in the ability of anole lizards to adapt and regenerate parts of their bodies.