Kevin Gardner

Biochemistry/Structural Biology

Main Affiliation

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Areas of Expertise/Research

  • Drug Development
  • Cancer Biology
  • Biotechnology


Advanced Science Research Center





Kevin Gardner


Kevin H. Gardner received his B.S. in Biochemistry from UC Davis before obtaining his Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry from Yale University for his research with Dr. Joseph Coleman on the development of new NMR methods to study metalloprotein structure and dynamics.  Continuing his training in structural biology, he did a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Lewis Kay at the University of Toronto, developing novel isotopic labeling and other methods for the study of large proteins and their complexes with solution NMR.  Dr. Gardner began his independent academic career at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, where he established a structural biology research group within the Departments of Biophysics and Biochemistry, exploring regulatory mechanisms of several classes of sensory proteins and discovering ways which these may be controlled by natural or artificial stimuli in the process.
Dr. Gardner now serves as the inaugural director of the Structural Biology Initiative of the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) and as the Albert Einstein Professor of Chemistry at City College.  The ASRC, a new 200,000 ft2 interdisciplinary research enterprise built by CUNY, assembles teams of scientists in fields that are often separated within most academic centers – structural biology, photonics, nanotechnology, neuroscience and environmental sciences – to catalyze novel collaborative interactions among experts in these fields.


Postdoctoral research, University of Toronto; advisor: Lewis E. Kay, Ph.D. (1995-1998)
Ph.D., Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry, Yale University; advisor: Joseph E. Coleman, M.D., Ph.D. (1989-1995)
B.S., Biochemistry, University of California, Davis (1985-1989) 

Research Interests

Environmentally-regulated protein/protein interactions

Environmental cues regulate many biological processes, controlling pathways used by cells to respond to changing conditions.  Such regulation is often initiated by sensory protein domains that use internally-bound ligands to convert environmentally-triggered changes into altered protein/protein interactions.  Several families of these domains have evolved with remarkable diversity in the stimuli they sense and outputs that they control.  Combining biophysics, biochemistry and cell biology in our group – and critically collaborating with labs in related areas – we seek insights into the signaling mechanisms of proteins used by cells to sense and respond to the environment around them.  In doing so, we aim to decipher how proteins use common sensory mechanisms despite tremendous diversity in their functions and biological settings – for example, revealing how a cancer-related transcription factor in human cells senses natural metabolites similarly to a photosensory protein looking for blue light within marine bacteria.  Such studies lay the foundation for both understanding the natural regulation of these systems and artificially controlling them.

Selected Publications

Clark, L., Dikiy, I., Rosenbaum, D.M. and Gardner, K.H.  (2018)  On the use of Pichia pastoris for isotopic labeling of human GPCRs for NMR studies.  J. Biomol. NMR, 71: 203-211.

Glantz, S.T., Berlew, E.E., Jaber, Z., Schuster, B.S., Gardner, K.H. and Chow, B.Y.  (2018)  Directly light-regulated binding of RGS-LOV photoreceptors to anionic membrane phospholipids.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 115: E7720-E7727.

Losi, A., Gardner, K.H. and Möglich, A.  (2018)  Blue-light receptors for optogenetics.  Chem. Res., in press.  DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.8b00163

Clark, L.*, Dikiy, I.*, Chapman, K., Rödström, K.E., Aramini, J., LeVine, M., Khelashvili, G., Rasmussen, S.G.F., Gardner, K.H. and Rosenbaum, D.M.  (2017)  Ligand modulation of sidechain dynamics in a wild-type human GPCR.  eLife, 6: e28505. (*:equal contributors).

Reade, A., Motta-Mena, L.B., Gardner, K.H., Stanier, D.Y., Weiner, O.D. and Woo, S.  (2017)  TAEL: A zebrafish-optimized optogenetic gene expression system with fine spatial and temporal control.  Development, 144: 345-355.  

Corrêa, F., Key, J., Kuhlman, B. and Gardner, K.H.  (2016)  Computational repacking of HIF-2a cavity replaces water-based stabilized core.  Structure, 24: 1918-1927.

Chen, W., Hill, H., Christie, A., Kim, M.S., Holloman, E., Pavía-Jiménez, A., Homayoun, F., Ma, Y., Patel, N., Yell, P., Hao, G., Yousuf, Q., Joyce, A., Pedrosa, I., Geiger, H., Zhang, H., Chang, J. Gardner, K.H., Bruick, R.K., Reeves, C., Hwang, T.H., Courtney, K., Frenkel, E., Sun, X., Zojwalla, N., Wong, T., Rizzi, J.P., Wallace, E.M., Josey, J.A., Xie, Y., Xie, X.-J., Kapur, P., McKay, R.M. and Brugarolas, J.  (2016)  Targeting renal cell carcinoma with a HIF-2 antagonist.  Nature, 539: 112-117.

Corrêa, F. and Gardner, K.H.  (2016)  Basis of mutual domain inhibition in a bacterial signaling switch.  Cell Chem. Biol., 23: 945-954.

Glantz, S.T., Carpenter, E.J., Melkonian, M., Gardner, K.H., Boyden, E.S., Wong, G.K-S. and Chow, B.Y.  (2016)  Functional and topological diversity of LOV domain photoreceptors.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 113: E1442-E1451.

Motta-Mena, L.B., Reade, A., Mallory, M.J., Glantz, S., Weiner, O.D., Lynch, K.W. and Gardner, K.H.  (2014)  An optogenetic gene expression system with rapid activation and deactivation kinetics.  Nature Chem. Biol., 10: 196-202.

Scheuermann, T.H., Li, Q., Ma, H.-W., Key, J., Zhang, L., Chen, R., Garcia, J.A., Naidoo, J., Longgood, J., Frantz, D.E., Tambar, U.K., Gardner, K.H.† and Bruick, R.K.†  (2013)  Allosteric inhibition of Hypoxia Inducible Factor 2 with small molecules.  Nat. Chem. Biol., 9: 271-276. (†: corresponding authors).
Rivera-Cancel, G.*, Motta-Mena, L.B.* and Gardner, K.H.  (2012)  Identification of natural and artificial DNA substrates for the light-activated LOV-HTH transcription factor EL222.  Biochemistry, 51: 10024-10034. (*: equal contributors)  
Nash, A.I.*, McNulty, R.*, Shillito, M.E., Swartz, T.E., Bogomolni, R.A., Luecke, H.† and Gardner, K.H.† (2011)  Structural basis of photosensitivity in a bacterial LOV-HTH DNA binding protein.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 108: 9449-9454. (*: equal contributors, †: corresponding authors)
Harper, S.M., Neil, L.C. and Gardner, K.H.  (2003)  Structural basis of a phototropin light switch.  Science, 301: 1541-1544.

Amezcua, C.A., Harper, S.M., Rutter J. and Gardner, K.H.  (2002)  Structure and interactions of PAS kinase N-terminal PAS domain: Model for intramolecular kinase regulation.  Structure, 10: 1349-1361. 

Additional Information

Einstein Professor of Chemistry 2013-present, City College of New York
Excellence in Education Awards 2010, 2012 UT Southwestern Medical Center
GRC Chairs' Hall of Fame 2011, Gordon Research Conferences
Excellence in Postdoctoral Mentoring Award 2011, UT Southwestern Postdoctoral Association
Virginia Lazenby O'Hara Chair in Biochemistry 2006-2013, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Outstanding Teacher Award 2004-2005, Dept. of Biochemistry, UT Southwestern
Meloche Lecturer 2004, Dept. of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin
Searle Scholar 1999-2002, The Chicago Community Trust
W.W. Caruth, Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research 1998-2013, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow 1996-1998, Helen Hay Whitney Foundation
NIH/NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow 1995-1996, National Institutes of Health
HHMI Predoctoral Fellow 1989-1994, HHMI
B.S. with Highest Honors (Biochemistry) 1989, UC Davis
Departmental Citation for Excellence 1989, UC Davis, Department of Biochemistry
Phi Beta Kappa 1989, UC Davis