Michael F. Carey

CAMPUS - 173722
Los Angeles, CA 90095
Phone: (310) 206-7859


Position Titles

Professor, Biological Chemistry
Co-Director, Howard Hughes Undergraduate Research Program
Director, JCCC Gene Regulation Program Area


Dr. Carey studies biochemical mechanisms of gene activation and silencing. In 1990, Dr. Carey established biochemical systems for studying gene regulation based on a model transcriptional activator termed GAL4-VP16. Using that system, Dr. Carey established a mechanism by which genes are controlled synergistically by upstream activators. Synergy is a key principle in gene regulation and underlies the combinatorial control of gene transcription. Throughout the 1990s, Dr. Carey’s lab showed that synergy is first manifested during assembly of transcription preinitiation complexes (PICs). His lab identified assembly of a co-activator complex, termed DAMed, as the key step influenced by activators. More recently, Dr. Carey has been studying the biochemistry of transcription on chromatin templates after a one year sabbatical at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in 2006. Dr. Carey’s lab has shown how a protein termed p300 coordinates chromatin modification with assembly of the DAMed complex and then the PIC. His lab has also shown how a protein termed HP1 silences transcription by selectively affecting key components of the DAMed complex. Dr. Carey’s recent work has focused on recreating the effects of histone methylation on gene activation and silencing in vitro. Dr. Carey served as Director of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Gene Regulation Program from 1999-2005 and 20011-present. Dr. Carey started the Cold Spring Harbor Eukaryotic Gene Expression Course with his UCLA colleague, Dr. Steven Smale, and served as course director in 1997. Drs. Carey and Smale wrote a 650-page textbook titled “Transcriptional Regulation in Eukaryotes; Concepts, Strategies and Techniques.” The first edition was published by CSHL Press in 2000 and the second edition was published in 2009. Dr. Carey is a scientific cofounder of Agensys, a biotechnology company focused on prostate cancer therapy. In 2000, during a leave of absence from UCLA, Dr. Carey served as Director of Biology at Genesoft, a company focused on cancer therapeutics targeting transcription factor binding sites in the genome. From 2006-2010, Dr. Carey was Chief Scientific Advisor for OncoTx, a biotech company focused on using transcription factors as therapeutic targets in melanoma and other cancers. Dr. Carey is on numerous committees at UCLA that oversee undergraduate and graduate research education.

Awards & Honors

1998-2000 CaPCURE Research Awards
1998 JCCC David Paul Kane Scholar