Dr. Steven McKnight

Dr. Steven McKnight is the Sam G. Winstead and F. Andrew Bell Distinguished Chairman of Biochemistry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. For 25 years his research has been focused on the regulation of gene expression in mammalian cells, tissues and organisms. McKnight and his students were first to map the regulatory DNA sequences responsible for controlling transcription initiation by RNA polymerase II, and among the first to identify and purify a distinct, gene-specific transcription factor. His laboratory discovered the leucine zipper motif responsible for the homo- and heterodimerization of bZIP transcription factors. In 1992 McKnight was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences for his body of work elucidating regulatory mechanisms responsible for the control of gene expression in higher eukaryotic cells. Together with Drs. David Goeddel and Robert Tjian, McKnight co-founded Tularik, Inc., a biotechnology company devoted to the discovery of ethical drugs acting via the control of gene expression. McKnight worked full-time at Tularik between 1992 and 1996, learning the methodology of high-throughput drug screening, and learning how to integrate chemistry, biology and pharmacology required for the common goal of discovering new, first-of-class therapeutics. Over the past eight years McKnight has implemented these technical capabilities in the department he chairs at UT Southwestern Medical Center. During this time he has further pursued science in his own laboratory focused on the general topics of circadian rhythm, depression, schizophrenia, adaptation of mammalian cells to hypoxia, and regulatory pathways controlling the flux of carbohydrates in eukaryotic cells. More information...