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Gary Karpen

biologist: Biosciences

Media contact: Dan Krotz, (510) 486-4019,


Gary and his group's current research continues a long-standing interest in chromosome structure and function, with a special emphasis on how epigenetic mechanisms and genome dynamics impact chromosome inheritance, nuclear architecture, and genome stability. Most of their research focuses on the model system Drosophila melanogaster, with some complementary studies performed in mammalian cells. All questions are addressed by integrating multiple approaches and intellectual perspectives, including cell biology (live and fixed imaging), biochemistry (protein complexes and modifications), genomics and epigenomics (genome assembly, ChIP mapping, evolutionary comparisons), genetics (genome-wide RNAi screens, classical genetics), and computational biology (image analysis and bioinformatics).

Gary is a senior scientist who currently serves as the Director of the Life Sciences Division.  He is also Co-Director of the Drosophila Genome Center and an adjunct professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Department at UC Berkeley.

Recent Publications

Gary is the author of more than 90 papers, book chapters, and review articles and holds 4 patents.  Below are a few of the most recent.

Alekseyenko, A.A., Ho, J.W.K., Peng, S., Gelbart, M., Tolstorukov, M.Y., Plachetka, A., Kharchenko, P.V., Jung, Y.L., Gorchakov, A.A., Larschan, E., Gu, T., Minoda, A., Riddle, N.C., ? Schwartz, Y.B., Elgin, S.C.R., Karpen, G.H., Pirrotta, V., Kuroda, M.I. and Park, P.J. (2012). Sequence-specific targeting of dosage compensation in Drosophila favors an active chromatin context. PLoS Genet 8, e1002646.

Dunleavy, E.M., Almouzni, G., and Karpen, G.H. (2011). H3.3 is deposited at centromeres in S phase as a placeholder for newly assembled CENP-A in G? phase. Nucleus 2, 146–157.

Mellone, B.G., Grive, K.J., Shteyn, V., Bowers, S.R., Oderberg, I., and Karpen, G.H. (2011) Assembly of Drosophila Centromeric Chromatin Proteins during Mitosis. PLoS Genetics 7: e1002068. (PMC3093364)

Chiolo, I., Minoda, A., Colmenares, S. U., Polyzos, A., Costes, S. V. and Karpen, G. H. (2011). Double-Strand Breaks in Heterochromatin Move Outside of a Dynamic HP1a Domain to Complete Recombinational Repair. Cell 144(5): 732-744. [see News and Views]

Riddle, N. C., Minoda, A., Kharchenko, P. V., Alekseyenko, A. A., Schwartz, Y. B., Tolstorukov, M. Y., Gorchakov, A. A., Jaffe, J. D., Kennedy, C., Linder-Basso, D., Peach, S. E., Shanower, G., Zheng, H., Kuroda, M. I., Pirrotta, V., Park, P. J., Elgin, S. C. R. and Karpen, G. H. (2011). Plasticity in patterns of histone modifications and chromosomal proteins in Drosophila heterochromatin. Genome Res 21(2): 147-163. (PMC3032919)

Zhang, W., Colmenares, S., and Karpen, G.H.(2011) Assembly of Drosophila Centromeric Nucleosomes Requires CID Dimerization. Molecular Cell 45, 263–269.

Awards and Memberships

Pew Charitable Trust Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, July 1993- June 1997

NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, November 1987 - October 1990

Graduated cum laude, with Honors in Biology, Brandeis University, May 1978


PhD., University of Washington, Department of Genetics

Postdoctoral work with Allan Spradling at the Carnegie Institute

Professor at The Salk Institute (La Jolla)


Science at the Theater, Health Detectives: Uncovering the Mysteries of Disease, April 23, 2012

Gary joins other Berkeley Lab life scientists to discuss how they uncover the mysteries of disease in unlikely places. Gary's talk, entitled, DNA is Not a Destiny, explores how environmental factors shape genome function and disease through epigenetics.

last updated: 2017-08-04 10:31:33