Keck School Faculty

Steve Kay, PhD
Steve Kay, PhD
Provost Professor of Neurology, Biomedical Engineering and Biological Sciences, Director of Convergent Bioscience
Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute
KAM 500 Health Sciences Campus Los Angeles
Dr. Steve Kay currently serves as the Director of the MESH (Medicine, Engineering, Sciences, and Humanities) Academy, the Director of the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience, and is a Provost Professor of Neurology, Biomedical Engineering and Biological Sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. He held the position as the 21st dean of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences from 2012 to 2015.

Dr. Kay is one of the world’s top experts on the genetics and genomics of circadian rhythms. Having published more than 200 papers, he was named by Thomson Reuters as one of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” from 2014 to 2017 and has been cited in Science magazine’s “Breakthroughs of the Year” three times since 1997. In 2008, Dr. Kay was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2009 he was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2011 he was awarded the American Society of Plant Biologists’ 2011 Martin Gibbs Medal for his pioneering work in plant sciences. To learn more about the Kay Laboratory and current research visit

Dr. Kay received his PhD and DSc from the University of Bristol, United Kingdom. Prior to joining USC in 2012, Dr. Kay served as dean of biological sciences at the University of California, San Diego. He also has held faculty positions at The Rockefeller University, University of Virginia and The Scripps Research Institute, as well as served as the VP of discovery research at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, where he focused on using high throughput technologies to push novel development candidates into the Novartis clinical pipeline. Dr. Kay served as president of The Scripps Research Institute from 2015 to 2016. In addition, he has founded several biotechnology companies.

Chemical Control of Mammalian Circadian Behavior through Dual Inhibition of Casein Kinase Ia and d J Med Chem. 2019 Feb 01. . View in PubMed

Cell-based screen identifies a new potent and highly selective CK2 inhibitor for modulation of circadian rhythms and cancer cell growth Sci Adv. 2019 Jan; 5(1):eaau9060. . View in PubMed

Decoys untangle complicated redundancy and reveal targets of circadian clock F-box proteins Plant Physiol. 2018 May 23. . View in PubMed

Decoys Untangle Complicated Redundancy and Reveal Targets of Circadian Clock F-Box Proteins Plant Physiol. 2018 07; 177(3):1170-1186. . View in PubMed

Cis and trans determinants of epigenetic silencing by Polycomb repressive complex 2 in Arabidopsis Nat Genet. 2017 Oct; 49(10):1546-1552. . View in PubMed

Guidelines for Genome-Scale Analysis of Biological Rhythms J Biol Rhythms. 2017 Oct; 32(5):380-393. . View in PubMed

A Modified Yeast-one Hybrid System for Heteromeric Protein Complex-DNA Interaction Studies J Vis Exp. 2017 07 24; (125). . View in PubMed

Comparative Analysis of Vertebrate Diurnal/Circadian Transcriptomes PLoS One. 2017; 12(1):e0169923. . View in PubMed

Arabidopsis B-BOX32 interacts with CONSTANS-LIKE3 to regulate flowering Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 01 03; 114(1):172-177. . View in PubMed

Circadian Amplitude Regulation via FBXW7-Targeted REV-ERBa Degradation Cell. 2016 Jun 16; 165(7):1644-1657. . View in PubMed

Cultivated tomato clock runs slow Nat Genet. 2016 Jan; 48(1):8-9. . View in PubMed

Identification of Arabidopsis Transcriptional Regulators by Yeast One-Hybrid Screens Using a Transcription Factor ORFeome Methods Mol Biol. 2016; 1398:107-18. . View in PubMed

Identification of Evening Complex Associated Proteins in Arabidopsis by Affinity Purification and Mass Spectrometry Mol Cell Proteomics. 2016 Jan; 15(1):201-17. . View in PubMed

Integration of Light and Photoperiodic Signaling in Transcriptional Nuclear Foci Dev Cell. 2015 Nov 09; 35(3):311-21. . View in PubMed

Development of Small-Molecule Cryptochrome Stabilizer Derivatives as Modulators of the Circadian Clock ChemMedChem. 2015 Sep; 10(9):1489-97. . View in PubMed

Identification of Open Stomata1-Interacting Proteins Reveals Interactions with Sucrose Non-fermenting1-Related Protein Kinases2 and with Type 2A Protein Phosphatases That Function in Abscisic Acid Responses Plant Physiol. 2015 Sep; 169(1):760-79. . View in PubMed

Genome-wide identification of CCA1 targets uncovers an expanded clock network in Arabidopsis Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Aug 25; 112(34):E4802-10. . View in PubMed

C-H activation generates period-shortening molecules that target cryptochrome in the mammalian circadian clock Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2015 Jun 08; 54(24):7193-7. . View in PubMed

A parametric classification rule based on the exponentially embedded family IEEE Trans Neural Netw Learn Syst. 2015 Feb; 26(2):367-77. . View in PubMed

Control of plant stem cell function by conserved interacting transcriptional regulators Nature. 2015 Jan 15; 517(7534):377-80. . View in PubMed

Identification of small-molecule modulators of the circadian clock Methods Enzymol. 2015; 551:267-82. . View in PubMed

HsfB2b-mediated repression of PRR7 directs abiotic stress responses of the circadian clock Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Nov 11; 111(45):16172-7. . View in PubMed

FBH1 affects warm temperature responses in the Arabidopsis circadian clock Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Oct 07; 111(40):14595-600. . View in PubMed

A genome-scale resource for the functional characterization of Arabidopsis transcription factors Cell Rep. 2014 Jul 24; 8(2):622-32. . View in PubMed

Daily changes in temperature, not the circadian clock, regulate growth rate in Brachypodium distachyon PLoS One. 2014; 9(6):e100072. . View in PubMed

Global approaches for telling time: omics and the Arabidopsis circadian clock Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2013 May; 24(5):383-92. . View in PubMed

BRANCHED1 interacts with FLOWERING LOCUS T to repress the floral transition of the axillary meristems in Arabidopsis Plant Cell. 2013 Apr; 25(4):1228-42. . View in PubMed

Circadian surprise--it's not all about transcription Science. 2012 Oct 19; 338(6105):338-40. . View in PubMed

CIRCADIAN CLOCK-ASSOCIATED 1 regulates ROS homeostasis and oxidative stress responses Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Oct 16; 109(42):17129-34. . View in PubMed

Identification of small molecule activators of cryptochrome Science. 2012 Aug 31; 337(6098):1094-7. . View in PubMed

Complexity in the wiring and regulation of plant circadian networks Curr Biol. 2012 Aug 21; 22(16):R648-57. . View in PubMed

Linking photoreceptor excitation to changes in plant architecture Genes Dev. 2012 Apr 15; 26(8):785-90. . View in PubMed

Arabidopsis circadian clock protein, TOC1, is a DNA-binding transcription factor Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Feb 21; 109(8):3167-72. . View in PubMed

Cell-autonomous hepatic circadian clock regulates polyamine synthesis Cell Cycle. 2012 Feb 01; 11(3):422-3. . View in PubMed

ELF3 recruitment to the PRR9 promoter requires other Evening Complex members in the Arabidopsis circadian clock Plant Signal Behav. 2012 Feb; 7(2):170-3. . View in PubMed

[Circadian clocks and photoperiodism] Fukuoka Igaku Zasshi. 2012 Feb; 103(2):29-34. . View in PubMed

Gene transfer in Leptolyngbya spstrain BL0902, a cyanobacterium suitable for production of biomass and bioproducts. PLoS One. 2012; 7(1):e30901. . View in PubMed

Cell-autonomous circadian clock of hepatocytes drives rhythms in transcription and polyamine synthesis Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Nov 08; 108(45):18560-5. . View in PubMed

A small molecule modulates circadian rhythms through phosphorylation of the period protein Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2011 Nov 04; 50(45):10608-11. . View in PubMed

Enhanced Y1H assays for Arabidopsis Nat Methods. 2011 Oct 30; 8(12):1053-5. . View in PubMed

GIGANTEA directly activates Flowering Locus T in Arabidopsis thaliana Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jul 12; 108(28):11698-703. . View in PubMed

Automated analysis of hypocotyl growth dynamics during shade avoidance in Arabidopsis Plant J. 2011 Mar; 65(6):991-1000. . View in PubMed

LUX ARRHYTHMO encodes a nighttime repressor of circadian gene expression in the Arabidopsis core clock Curr Biol. 2011 Jan 25; 21(2):126-33. . View in PubMed

Global profiling of rice and poplar transcriptomes highlights key conserved circadian-controlled pathways and cis-regulatory modules PLoS One. 2011; 6(6):e16907. . View in PubMed

High-throughput chemical screen identifies a novel potent modulator of cellular circadian rhythms and reveals CKIa as a clock regulatory kinase PLoS Biol. 2010 Dec 14; 8(12):e1000559. . View in PubMed

Clocks not winding down: unravelling circadian networks Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2010 Nov; 11(11):764-76. . View in PubMed

Emergence of noise-induced oscillations in the central circadian pacemaker PLoS Biol. 2010 Oct 12; 8(10):e1000513. . View in PubMed

Cryptochrome mediates circadian regulation of cAMP signaling and hepatic gluconeogenesis Nat Med. 2010 Oct; 16(10):1152-6. . View in PubMed

An expanding universe of circadian networks in higher plants Trends Plant Sci. 2010 May; 15(5):259-65. . View in PubMed

F-box proteins FKF1 and LKP2 act in concert with ZEITLUPE to control Arabidopsis clock progression Plant Cell. 2010 Mar; 22(3):606-22. . View in PubMed

Circadian control of global gene expression patterns Annu Rev Genet. 2010; 44:419-44. . View in PubMed

A genome-wide RNAi screen for modifiers of the circadian clock in human cells Cell. 2009 Oct 02; 139(1):199-210. . View in PubMed

High-throughput screening and chemical biology: new approaches for understanding circadian clock mechanisms Chem Biol. 2009 Sep 25; 16(9):921-7. . View in PubMed

A model of the cell-autonomous mammalian circadian clock Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Jul 07; 106(27):11107-12. . View in PubMed

HSP90, a capacitor of behavioral variation J Biol Rhythms. 2009 Jun; 24(3):183-92. . View in PubMed

Cytochrome P450 monooxygenases as reporters for circadian-regulated pathways Plant Physiol. 2009 Jun; 150(2):858-78. . View in PubMed

A functional genomics approach reveals CHE as a component of the Arabidopsis circadian clock Science. 2009 Mar 13; 323(5920):1481-5. . View in PubMed

A mouse forward genetics screen identifies LISTERIN as an E3 ubiquitin ligase involved in neurodegeneration Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Feb 17; 106(7):2097-103. . View in PubMed

Exploring the transcriptional landscape of plant circadian rhythms using genome tiling arrays Genome Biol. 2009 Feb 11; 10(2):R17. . View in PubMed

A chemical biology approach reveals period shortening of the mammalian circadian clock by specific inhibition of GSK-3beta Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Dec 30; 105(52):20746-51. . View in PubMed

A morning-specific phytohormone gene expression program underlying rhythmic plant growth PLoS Biol. 2008 Sep 16; 6(9):e225. . View in PubMed

[Molecular mechanism by which plant determines flowering timing with circadian clock] Tanpakushitsu Kakusan Koso. 2008 May; 53(6):739-46. . View in PubMed

Global transcriptome analysis reveals circadian regulation of key pathways in plant growth and development Genome Biol. 2008; 9(8):R130. . View in PubMed

Circadian rhythmsDaily watch on metabolism. Science. 2007 Dec 14; 318(5857):1730-1. . View in PubMed

Circadian transcription depends on limiting amounts of the transcription co-activator nejire/CBP J Biol Chem. 2007 Oct 26; 282(43):31349-57. . View in PubMed

FKF1 and GIGANTEA complex formation is required for day-length measurement in Arabidopsis Science. 2007 Oct 12; 318(5848):261-5. . View in PubMed

Mammalian circadian signaling networks and therapeutic targets Nat Chem Biol. 2007 Oct; 3(10):630-9. . View in PubMed

Genome-wide patterns of single-feature polymorphism in Arabidopsis thaliana Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jul 17; 104(29):12057-62. . View in PubMed

In SYNC: the ins and outs of circadian oscillations in calcium Sci STKE. 2007 Jun 12; 2007(390):pe32. . View in PubMed

Intercellular coupling confers robustness against mutations in the SCN circadian clock network Cell. 2007 May 04; 129(3):605-16. . View in PubMed

Impaired clock output by altered connectivity in the circadian network Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Mar 27; 104(13):5650-5. . View in PubMed

A constitutive shade-avoidance mutant implicates TIR-NBS-LRR proteins in Arabidopsis photomorphogenic development Plant Cell. 2006 Nov; 18(11):2919-28. . View in PubMed

Arabidopsis FHY3 specifically gates phytochrome signaling to the circadian clock Plant Cell. 2006 Oct; 18(10):2506-16. . View in PubMed

Feedback repression is required for mammalian circadian clock function Nat Genet. 2006 Mar; 38(3):312-9. . View in PubMed

Circadian rhythms lit up in Chlamydomonas Genome Biol. 2006; 7(4):215. . View in PubMed

A novel computational model of the circadian clock in Arabidopsis that incorporates PRR7 and PRR9 Mol Syst Biol. 2006; 2:58. . View in PubMed

LUX ARRHYTHMO encodes a Myb domain protein essential for circadian rhythms Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jul 19; 102(29):10387-92. . View in PubMed

FKF1 F-box protein mediates cyclic degradation of a repressor of CONSTANS in Arabidopsis Science. 2005 Jul 08; 309(5732):293-7. . View in PubMed

Bioluminescence imaging in living organisms Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2005 Feb; 16(1):73-8. . View in PubMed

Bioluminescence imaging of individual fibroblasts reveals persistent, independently phased circadian rhythms of clock gene expression Curr Biol. 2004 Dec 29; 14(24):2289-95. . View in PubMed

Kidney transplant rejection and tissue injury by gene profiling of biopsies and peripheral blood lymphocytes Am J Transplant. 2004 Sep; 4(9):1475-89. . View in PubMed

A functional genomics strategy reveals Rora as a component of the mammalian circadian clock Neuron. 2004 Aug 19; 43(4):527-37. . View in PubMed

A PERIOD inhibitor buffer introduces a delay mechanism for CLK/CYC-activated transcription FEBS Lett. 2003 Dec 04; 555(2):341-5. . View in PubMed

HY5, Circadian Clock-Associated 1, and a cis-element, DET1 dark response element, mediate DET1 regulation of chlorophyll a/b-binding protein 2 expression Plant Physiol. 2003 Dec; 133(4):1565-77. . View in PubMed

A genomic analysis of the shade avoidance response in Arabidopsis Plant Physiol. 2003 Dec; 133(4):1617-29. . View in PubMed

FKF1 is essential for photoperiodic-specific light signalling in Arabidopsis Nature. 2003 Nov 20; 426(6964):302-6. . View in PubMed

Gene arrays are not just for measuring gene expression Trends Plant Sci. 2003 Sep; 8(9):413-6. . View in PubMed

Circadian clocks in daily and seasonal control of development Science. 2003 Jul 18; 301(5631):326-8. . View in PubMed

Living by the calendar: how plants know when to flower Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2003 Apr; 4(4):265-75. . View in PubMed

DNA arrays: applications and implications for circadian biology J Biol Rhythms. 2003 Apr; 18(2):96-105. . View in PubMed

Genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism analysis defines haplotype patterns in mouse Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Mar 18; 100(6):3380-5. . View in PubMed

Dual role of TOC1 in the control of circadian and photomorphogenic responses in Arabidopsis Plant Cell. 2003 Jan; 15(1):223-36. . View in PubMed

Circadian light input in plants, flies and mammals Novartis Found Symp. 2003; 253:73-82; discussion 82-8, 102-9, 281-4. . View in PubMed

Circadian transcriptional output in the SCN and liver of the mouse Novartis Found Symp. 2003; 253:171-80; discussion 52-5, 102-9, 180-3 passim. . View in PubMed

Melanopsin (Opn4) requirement for normal light-induced circadian phase shifting Science. 2002 Dec 13; 298(5601):2213-6. . View in PubMed

Divergent perspectives on GM food Nat Biotechnol. 2002 Dec; 20(12):1195-6; author reply 1197. . View in PubMed

Genome-wide expression analysis in Drosophila reveals genes controlling circadian behavior J Neurosci. 2002 Nov 01; 22(21):9305-19. . View in PubMed

Circadian rhythms from flies to human Nature. 2002 May 16; 417(6886):329-35. . View in PubMed

Coordinated transcription of key pathways in the mouse by the circadian clock Cell. 2002 May 03; 109(3):307-20. . View in PubMed

Critical role for CCA1 and LHY in maintaining circadian rhythmicity in Arabidopsis Curr Biol. 2002 Apr 30; 12(9):757-61. . View in PubMed

A P element with a novel fusion of reporters identifies regular, a C2H2 zinc-finger gene downstream of the circadian clock Mol Cell Neurosci. 2002 Apr; 19(4):501-14. . View in PubMed

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