Kaya Keutler

Kaya Keutler

Kaya Keutler


About Me.

PhD candidate in the Chemical Physiology and Biochemistry department at OHSU.

I`m Kaya, a T1D navigating my way through graduate school & recently parenthood. When in the lab, I research insulin secretion and cell-to-cell communication in the pancreatic islet. When not, I usually engage in fun activities with my toddler. Recently, I'm finding my way into the field of science communication.
I studied Biochemistry (B. Sc.) at the Eberhart-Karls University of Tuebingen and then Biochemistry and Biophysics at the Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg. I completed the trio of beautiful southern german cities by conducting my master thesis work at the European Molecular Biology Lab (EMBL) in Heidelberg. Then I followed my mentor overseas and am now attending graduate school in Portland, OR.

This online presence is meant as a "living" resume where you can find information about me, my life and the projects I have been involved in.

Personal Information


Coaching Experience

During my time in Tuebingen, I participated in the initiative Rock Your Life! This programm brings together school children from ages 14-17 with university students who function as their mentors for two years. Besides my role as a mentor, I also was part of the organizational team and managing one child-student cohort as a supervisor.

Podcasting - currently paused

This is novel to me and I'm just figuring out how to do it! I love listening to podcasts myself. When I became a mom and especially when I started working in the lab again, I was desperately looking for people that are or had been in the same boat & happened to make a podcast out of it. I couldn't really find what I was looking for so I just started creating the content that I've been looking for!


I love myself a good DIY project! My passion for it goes back to my childhood, as my mother is an artist - so from early on she would involve me in all kinds of artistic projects ranging from art to furniture remodelling. During my studies I re-discovered crafting as a powerful way to relax my brain & I use it for re-charging my mental batteries eversince. With time I've gotten more and more creative and my projects and ideas have evolved away from small hang-on-the-wall crafts to whole furniture projects. Asides from helping me relax, being creative has become a way of life and I see my creativity pop-up everywhere around me: even in the lab. I often repurpose lab-objects that were meant for A to achieve B with them - in a way science is thinking outside of the box, right?

Current Involvements

Social Media Manager at Origin Audio

My volunteer position at OA involves determining their social media strategy, enaging with relevant social media content
as well as editing and publishing OA blog posts.

Volunteer at the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC)

My volunteer position at the DRC involves rephrasing research proposals for a lay or non-scientific audience, creating explanatory visuals and interacting with the applying scientists.

Science News content creator

I create science-related content for my departments weekly newsletter.
This content includes personal interviews with faculty as well as experience summaries of attended conferences. Much more to be coming soon!

My Resume.


  • PhD candidate

    Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA

    Enrolled in the Physiology and Pharmacology program. My current research builds on the findings of my master thesis but has greatly developed since. During my first and second year I focused on the establishment of in vivo work, manipulating glucose metabolism in wild-type (WT) and TAAR1-knock out mice. Over the last year and into the present I focused on cell-to-cell communication within the pancreatic islet (as reviewed in 10.1016/j.chembiol.2020.07.023) and in particular on the role of glucagon as an important factor for β-cell functionality. For this, I study pancreatic cell lines in co-culture manipulating culture conditions or work on primary mouse and human pancreatic islets.

    2023 2018
  • Master-Thesis Research

    European Molecular Biology Lab (EMBL), Heidelberg, Germany

    As a master student Dr. Schultz‘s lab, I focused on further investigating the role of TAs in regulating insulin secretion. For this, I investigated several extraction protocols followed by mass spectrometry in order to detect TAs in β-cells as well as to quantify the released levels. Additionally, I manipulated the metabolic pathways necessary for TA synthesis and degradation. Using mass spectrometry, I was able to show TA synthesis from isotopically labeled precursor amino acids and their correlation with insulin secretion in β-cells. These studies revealed that β-cells possess the required enzymatic machinery for the synthesis of TAs. Additionally, we showed that potency of TAs in potentiating insulin release greatly depends on structure. The structural motif of an amino group separated from an aromatic group by two atoms (as found in most TA derivatives) was found most stimulatory. Finally, I provided some evidence for vesicular storage of TAs within β-cells. As part of my graduate research, I am following up on these outcomes further testing the importance of TA signaling for insulin secretion from β-cells.

    March 2018 May 2017
  • Internship Research

    European Molecular Biology Lab (EMBL), Heidelberg, Germany

    During my internship in Dr. Schultz‘s lab at EMBL, Heidelberg, I established protocols for the stimulation of β-cells and assays for their secretory capacity. These methods were used to study the importance of autocrine signaling among β-cells in order to successfully release insulin. Additionally, I studied a novel class of β-cell signaling factors, so-called trace amines (TAs). TAs activate the G-protein coupled receptor (GPCRs) TAAR1, expressed by β-cells with unknown function so far. In my studies we identified TAs as activators of β-cell TAAR1 and potentiators of insulin secretion in the presence of glucose. Finally, I contributed to a study investigating free fatty acids as regulators of insulin secretion in β-cells, which got published in Diabetes 2018 (10.2337/db17-1215).

    March 2017 October 2016
  • Bachelor-Thesis Research

    Eberhard-Karls University of Tuebingen, Germany

    As a bachelor student in Prof. Dr. García-Sáez’s lab at the Eberhard-Karls University of Tuebingen, I purified and studied pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins. For this, I performed protein purification of the truncated version of Bcl-2 and then performed functionality screenings in suitable in vitro membrane systems modelling the outer mitochondrial membrane. Pore-formation or prevention of it, was followed by confocal microscopy. Prof. Dr. García-Sáez is currently investigating the interaction of pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins and differences caused by those proteins being membrane embedded vs. soluble.

    September 2015 April 2015


  • PhD Physiology and Pharmacology

    Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Portland, OR, USA

    Currently working as a PhD candidate at OHSU located in Portland Oregon. Member of the SchultzLab.

    2023 2018
  • M.Sc in Biochemistry and Biophysics

    Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg, Germany

    Thesis topic: Identification and Quantification of endogenous Trace Amines in β- cells- manipulating biochemical pathways

    2018 2015
  • B.Sc in Biochemistry

    Eberhard-Karls University of Tuebingen, Germany

    Thesis topic: Purification and Functional Analysis of the Bcl-2 Protein Family Member Bcl-2

    2015 2012

Soft Skills

Time Management & Organization


Coaching experience


Multilingual (German, Greek and English)


ACS reviewer training


Scientific writing


Lab Skills

Culture and maintenance of pancreatic cell lines


Culture and maintenance of primary pancreatic tissue


In vivo work with rodents (mouse)


Hormone secretion assays (ELISA)


Mass Spectrometry


Live and fixed-cell microscopy


Flow Cytometry (FACS)


Contact Me.

Let's Talk

Portland, Oregon, USA