Our laboratory studies the construction and evolution of complex regulatory networks
As a paradigm, we have chosen to focus on circadian rhythms given their central role in regulating physiology and behavior in almost all organisms. We wish to know the molecular architecture of these 24h oscillators inside of cells, how they maintain robustness to perturbations and how they regulate a wide range of cellular responses – from transcription of large sets of genes to gating of ion channels in membranes.
We are also interested in the evolutionary origins of circadian clocks – do they consist of conserved protein motifs, or is system architecture the key feature shared in common amongst diverse phyla. We wield many experimental tools in two model organisms: mice and Arabidopsis, mostly using what is called “Systems Biology” – large scale datasets of gene expression or protein content combined with genetics, bioinformatics and computational tools (mathematical modeling), chemical screens and more conventional biochemical approaches.
The Kay Lab also recently joined the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Genetic and Epigenetic Regulation Program to study cancer signaling and inhibitors.