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Kamena Kostova

B.S., Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of California, San Francisco

Go where your science takes you, not where you feel comfortable.

Research Areas

Cell Biology, Genetics and Genomics, Molecular and Cell Biology



NIH DP5 Early Independence Award


Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award

2014 – 2017

UCSF Discovery Fellowship

2014 – 2017

HHMI International Research Fellowship

2013 – 2014

UCSF Graduate Dean's Health Science Fellowship

2012 – 2013

Chuan Lyu Chancellor's Fellowship, UCSF


Association of MIT Alumnae (AMITA) Senior Academic Award

Kostova will join the Stowers Institute in fall 2024, bringing with her an established research program unraveling the mysteries of ribosomes.

Growing up in a tiny village called Shipka in the mountains of Bulgaria, Kamena Kostova moved to the US to pursue a B.S. in biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As an undergraduate student, she joined the laboratory of Tyler Jacks, Ph.D., where she studied the most commonly mutated gene in human cancer, p53.

She obtained her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from University of California, San Francisco in 2018. Working in the lab of Jonathan Weissman, Ph.D., Kostova studied how yeast and mammalian cells cope with defects in protein production. Her thesis was awarded the Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award.

After completing her Ph.D., Kostova took an atypical career path, starting her own laboratory as a Staff Associate (Independent Fellow) at the Carnegie Institution for Science, Department of Embryology. There, Kostova developed a research program focusing on changes in ribosome composition. She pioneered unique systems to study ribosome damage in human cells and used unbiased genetic approaches, such as whole genome CRISPR screens, to identify the quality control factors thatmanage faulty ribosomes. Her group also developed methods to study naturally occurring ribosome heterogeneity in multiple species, including zebrafish, to determine how the assembly of structurally different ribosomes contribute to processes like development.

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