Epigenomics, RNA and Gene Regulation Program

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Siavash Kurdistani

Director

Michael Carey, Ph.D.

Contact via email

Co-Director

Siavash Kurdistani, M.D.

Contact via email

Overview

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.

Goals

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 Events

  • 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

Leadership

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.