Leadership and Key Members
Siavash Kurdistani, MD
Professor and Chair
Siavash Kurdistani, MD, investigates the role of the modification of histones – the proteins around which DNA wraps itself to form chromatin - in cellular transformation and differentiation. His research on histone modification is important to the development of future diagnostics and treatments for cancer.
Dr. Kurdistani’s lab discovered that differences in total or global levels of histone modifications is a prevalent phenomenon in cancer and can be predictive of clinical outcome in multiple cancers. Dr. Kurdistani seeks to decipher the mechanisms that regulate the global levels of histone modification in cancer. He also seeks to understand the similarities and differences in the epigenetic requirements for maintenance of the de-differentiated state of cancer cells vs. embryonic stem cells.
Dr. Kurdistani became interested in stem cell research because of the biological similarities between cancer cells and embryonic stem cells and their ability to self-renew. He seeks to learn more by comparing cancer and embryonic stem cells to each other with the goal of understanding cancer development and progression at a molecular level. He hopes to apply what he learns to solve clinical problems and develop more personalized therapeutics.
In addition to the Broad Stem Cell Research Center, Dr. Kurdistani is a member of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) and is also the Associate Director of JCCC's Gene Regulation Program Area. He also serves as the Co-Director of the UCLA-Caltech MSTP program, a combined MD and PhD training track for students seeking to become physician-scientists.
Chair and Professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry with a secondary appointment in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Dr. Kurdistani did his undergraduate studies at UCLA and attended Harvard Medical School. He joined the UCLA faculty in 2004.
Dr. Kurdistani’s work is funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society.