Research Interests

For many years, I have been interested in the molecular mechanisms of gene regulation in the baker's yeast. This work includes the elucidation of the critical DNA sequences and proteins involved in how a gene is expressed at different levels depending on environmental conditions. The gene expression process is a highly complex process involving an intricate interplay of the basic transcription machinery that synthesizes messenger RNA, DNA-binding transcription factors that are primarily responsible for gene-specific behavior, and multi-protein co-regulatory complexes that enzymatically modify chromatin, the protein-DNA substrate in living cells. I have been interested in epigenetic inheritance, a molecular memory mechanism in which distinct stable states of gene expression are maintained or interchanged with the same genetic information. In addition, I have been interested in using evolutionary approaches to distinguish between biological function and biological noise in the context of gene regulation. More recently, we have worked on molecular mechanisms linking inflammation to cancer including a novel epigenetic switch, gene-regulatory mechanisms underlying the generation and function of cancer stem cells, and the use of the anti-diabetic drug metformin to treat cancer.

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Primary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology

Secondary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry