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Associate Professor, Biology Associate Professor, Genetics

Research Interests

Key words: Developmental genomics

Lab Website

Research in the lab focuses on how a single genome gives rise to a variety of cell types and body parts during development. We use Drosophila as a model organism to investigate (1) how transcription factors access DNA to regulate complex patterns of gene expression, and (2) how post-translational modification of histones contributes to maintenance of gene expression programs over time. We combine a range of approaches, including genomics (CUT&RUN, ATAC-seq, RNA-seq), genetics (transgenesis, CRISPR), microscopy, and biochemistry to address both of these questions. Defects in cell fate specification and maintenance of cell identity occur in most human diseases. A mechanistic understanding of normal development will shed light on how these processes go awry in disease.

Mentor Training:

  • Bias 101
  • Faculty Mentoring Workshop for Biomedical Researchers
  • REI Racial Equity Workshop Phase 1
  • Safe Zone

Training Program Affiliations:

  • Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
  • Biology
  • Genetics and Molecular Biology


Dan McKay in UNC Genetics News

Genetics Colloquium_21 0113 Nystrom and Thennavan

December 30, 2020

Wednesday – Department of Genetics Colloquium: Spencer Nystrom & Aatish Thennavan

UNC Department of Genetics Research Colloquium The UNC Department of Genetics Research Colloquium welcomes Spencer Nystrom, Genetics and Molecular Biology Graduate Student in the Dan McKay Lab, and Aatish Thennavan, Graduate Student in the Chuck Perou Lab, on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. Spencer Nystrom Regulation of Developmental Timing by Chromatin Accessibility Aatish Thennavan Molecular analysis …

Daniel McKay