Epigenomics, RNA and Gene Regulation Program


Siavash Kurdistani


Michael Carey, Ph.D.

Contact via email


Siavash Kurdistani, M.D.

Contact via email


The Epigenomics, RNA & Gene Regulation (ERGR) research program promotes UCLA’s critical mass of outstanding gene regulation researchers to apply their expertise to the cancer problem. It is expected that ERGR insights into the basic molecular and cellular biology of cancer to reveal cancer vulnerabilities can be targeted as novel strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. ERGR research program investigators employ diverse model systems including cancer cells to elucidate fundamental mechanisms of gene regulation, from chromatin and transcription to RNA biology, and their alterations in cancer. Program studies extend to physiological processes that are relevant to cancer including cell differentiation, inflammation and lipid metabolism.

The ERGR research program leads in development of new technologies and methodologies including cutting-edge informatics to meet the demands of today’s high-throughput experimental tools and provide expertise to researchers in other UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center research programs. Although focused on mechanisms underlying fundamental epigenomics and gene regulatory processes, the ERGR research program strives to translate its knowledge to pre-clinical and clinical applications. The ERGR membership is drawn from four UCLA schools and partner institution Caltech, representing 12 departments, and thus serves as the intellectual home for researchers with interests broadly related to gene regulation.

The ERGR research program consciously cultivates a collegial environment and many opportunities for exchange of ideas, research findings and scientific discussions among the faculty, postdocs and students. Such interactions lead to establishment of valuable and fruitful collaborations that raise the quality of ERGR research program science all while inspiring interest in cancer-related problems. To preempt natural attrition and prepare for future challenges, the ERGR research program anticipates, identifies and recruits new young and established researchers with great potential or outstanding record of accomplishment whose expertise align with program goals and complement ongoing efforts by program faculty. The ERGR research program’s overall guiding principle is to foster discovery of fundamental biological processes whose alterations may contribute to cancer development and progression with the ultimate goal of helping to defeat this disease.


The primary goal of the ERGR research program is to promote the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center’s critical mass of outstanding gene regulation, RNA biology and bioinformatic researchers to apply their expertise to the cancer problem using modern genomic and proteomic approaches.

To achieve its objective, the ERGR research program has three specific aims to:

  1. Employ organisms and model systems including cancer cells to elucidate fundamental mechanisms of gene regulation and how these mechanisms may be altered in cancer
  2. Study the molecular regulation of physiological processes that are relevant to cancer including lipid metabolism, inflammation and cell differentiation
  3. Facilitate the transition of acquired knowledge of gene regulation into translational applications

Meetings and seminars

  • Participation in the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center seminar series that features invited outside and local faculty
  • Weekly journal club
  • Monthly meeting at which two different UCLA ERGR labs present recent results
  • UCLA “Leaders in the Field” seminar series at which an invited external speaker gives an afternoon presentation followed by an open reception
  • Annual research program summer barbeque


Director Michael Carey is Professor and Vice Chair of Biological Chemistry. Carey is an Natinoal Institutes of Health-funded investigator studying the mechanisms of transcriptional activation and silencing in mammalian cells using biochemical and genomic approaches. He is co-founder of Agensys, a cancer therapeutics company acquired by Astellas in 2007. Carey is a member of the editorial boards of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Journal of Biological Chemistry, and has served on numerous grant review panels for the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society and the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and on an external review panel for the National Cancer Institute Receptor Biology and Gene Regulation laboratories. Carey is co-author of the book Eukaryotic Gene Regulation: Concepts, Strategies and Techniques (CSHL Press, 1999, 2009), and he holds two patents on transcription-based imaging strategies for prostate cancer. Carey also directs the Gene Regulation, Epigenomics and Transcriptomics (GREAT) home area in the Molecular Biology Institute Interdepartmental Graduate Program (MBIDP), and the UCLA Postdocs Longitudinal Investment in Faculty Training (UPLIFT) program supported by an Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA) from the National Institutes of Health.

Co-director Dr. Siavash Kurdistani is Professor and Chair of Biological Chemistry and former co-cirector of the UCLA-Caltech Medical Scientist Training Program. Kurdistani has a long-standing interest in chromatin biology and cancer, having done his internship in pathology and laboratory medicine at UCLA prior to his postdoctoral training in Michael Grunstein's lab. His laboratory investigates the function of histones and their modifications in regulation of gene expression and cellular metabolism, and how such regulation is altered in cancer. Among his contributions are the identification of a unique histone acetylation site as a critical target for oncogenic transformation by viral oncogenes (Ferrari et al., Science. 2008), and the first predictive association of epigenetic alterations with clinical outcome of cancer patients (Seligson et al., Nature. 2005). Kurdistani was the recipient of an National Institutes of Health Director’s Innovator Award in 2009 and a W. M. Keck Foundation Award in 2017. Kurdistani is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI).

Upcoming events

The following list is for upcoming events and seminars of notable interest to the Epigenomics, RNA and Gene Regulation Program and its members. This calendar is updated automatically.

For a list of all upcoming JCCC events (including other research programs, patients and survivors, and the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation), please visit the Events Calendar.

UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center 2nd Annual All Center Retreat


We are excited to announce the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 2nd Annual All Center Retreat! The all-day event will take place at the Luskin Conference Center on May 5, 2022.

Online registration has closed. But there's still time! You can register via email until April 28. Please contact Juliana Ryan at JKRyan@mednet.ucla.edu.

All attendees are subject to Los Angeles County Health Department and UCLA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Requirements for entrance to the Retreat include providing proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the event at check-in, completion of the UCLA Daily Symptom Monitoring Survey, and adherence to all masking guidelines (currently universal masking required for all indoor events regardless of vaccination status). For all the current campus COVID-19 guidelines, please visit UCLA's COVID-19 website.

We look forward to seeing you at the Retreat!



Registration, Lobby & Exhibit Hall Open
Breakfast served in Centennial Hall Pre-Function Area


Welcome & Opening Remarks

Michael Teitell, MD, PhD
Professor & Latta Endowed Chair in Pathology
Director, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive
President, UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation

Johnese Spisso, RN, MPA
President, UCLA Health
CEO, UCLA Hospital System
Associate Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences

Steven M. Dubinett, MD
Interim Dean, David Geffen School of Medicine
Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, UCLA

Session I


New Technologies for the Study & Treatment of Cancer

Robert Prins, PhD (Session Moderator)
Professor, Neurosurgery

"Using an Organoid Transplantation Model of Glioblastoma to Characterize Cell Fate"
Aparna Bhaduri, PhD
Assistant Professor, Biological Chemistry

"Multidimensional Characterization of the Tumor Immune Microenvironment"
Willy Hugo, PhD
Assistant Professor, Medicine, Dermatology

"Synthetic IL9R Signaling for Adoptive T Cell Therapy of Cancer"
Anusha Kalbasi, MD
Assistant Professor, Radiation Oncology

"UCLA Molecular Radio-Theranostic Program: From Clinical Research to the Outpatient Therapy Center"
Jeremie Calais, MD
Associate Professor, Molecular & Medical Pharmacology\


Poster Viewing & Networking

Session II


Advancing Equity Across the JCCC: Workforce, Research, Clinical Care and Community Engagement Initiatives

"Cancer Disparities in Los Angeles: Gaps, Challenges and Opportunities" and "Increasing Enrollment of Diverse Populations in JCCC Clinical Trials"
Beth Glenn, PhD (Session Moderator)
Professor, Health Policy and Management
Fielding School of Public Health
Co-Director, Disparities, Community Outreach and Engagement
Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
Associate Director, UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity

"Why Workforce Diversity is Important: Examples of Ongoing Efforts at UCLA Health"
Medell Briggs-Malonson, MD, MPH, MSHS
Chief, Health Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
UCLA Health
Associate Clinical Professor, Emergency Medicine

"Reducing Disparities in Lung Cancer Screening in Los Angeles"

Ashley Prosper, MD
Assistant Professor, Radiological Sciences
Fielding School of Public Health

"Enhancing Health Equity through Community Engagement"
Alison Herrmann, PhD
Research Scientist, Health Policy and Management
Fielding School of Public Health


Keynote Speaker

"Factors Influencing Cancer Disparities: Toward Achieving Cancer Health Equity"
John D. Carpten, PhD
Professor & Chair
Department of Translational GenomicsRoyce & Mary Trotter Chair in Cancer Research
Professor, Department of Urology
Associate Director of Basic Sciences
Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center
Keck School of Medicine
University of Southern California


Lunch & Networking
Luskin Center Terrace

Session III


Therapeutic Applications & Agents

Michael E. Jung, PhD (Session Moderator)
Distinguished Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry
UC Presidential Chair in Medicinal Chemistry

"Development of an Androgen Receptor Degrader Targeting the N-Terminus"
Matthew Rettig, MD
Professor, Medicine and Urology

"UCLA Neuro-Oncology Drug Discovery and Development Program"
Diana Marquez-Garban, MD
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Medicine, Hematology-Oncology

"Development of New Antiestrogens for Breast Cancer Treatment in Combination with Immunotherapy"
David Nathanson, PhD
Associate Professor, Molecular & Medical Pharmacology


Poster Viewing & Networking

Session IV


Enabling Technologies & Resources

Manish Butte, MD, PhD (Session Moderator)
Associate Professor, Pediatrics, Allergy/Immunology

"Using Avian CAM Models to Generate New PDXs to Study Cancer Metastasis and Therapeutics"
Lily Wu, MD, PhD
Professor, Molecular & Medical Pharmacology\

"Enabling Data-Driven Research and AI Using UCLA’s Electronic Health Records"
Alex Bui, PhD
Professor, Radiological Sciences

"How Can the Cancer Registry Help You in Conducting Your Research?"
Patricia A. Ganz, MD
Professor, Health Policy & Management
Fielding School of Public Health
David Geffen School of Medicine

"Technologies of Single Cell and Spatial Transcriptomics Available at the Cancer Center’s Genomics Shared Resource"
Xinmin Li, PhD
Professor, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine


Closing Remarks

Michael Teitell, MD, PhD
Professor & Latta Endowed Chair in Pathology
Director, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive
President, UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation


Post-Retreat Reception
Appetizers and Drinks in Centennial Hall Pre-Function Area


Retreat Concludes

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