Kevin Gardner, Ph.D.

  • Director, Structural Biology Initiative
  • Einstein Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, The City College of New York

Kevin H. Gardner, Ph.D. is the founding director of the ASRC’s Structural Biology Initiative. A molecular biophysicist and biochemist, he was appointed in September 2013, joining CUNY from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Dr. Gardner is an international leader in combining structural biology methods, including NMR spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction, to probe how proteins perceive and react to changes in the environments around them. Dr. Gardner and his research team discovered that a diverse group of such proteins use similar mechanisms of signaling and regulation despite sensing radically different stimuli. His lab explores how these processes can be artificially controlled, leading to the development of a first-in-class anti-cancer therapy (Merck’s belzutifan) and biotech research tools. Notably, Dr. Gardner and his research group use very interdisciplinary approach in their lab and with their collaborations to blend biochemistry, chemistry, cell biology, engineering, and other approaches for these exciting discoveries.

Dr. Gardner received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University in 1995 and was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto. He joined UT Southwestern in 1998 as the inaugural W.W. Caruth Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research and was later named the Virginia Lazenby O’Hara Chair in Biochemistry.  At CUNY, in addition to directing the ASRC Structural Biology Initiative, Dr. Gardner is the Einstein Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at The City College of New York. He has also been involved in founding several biotech companies (Peloton Therapeutics, Inc.; Optologix, Inc.) in varying roles and currently serves on the Advisory Council for LifeSci NYC to promote the biotech environment in NYC.

Dr. Gardner has organized many national and international conferences in the fields of structural biology and biochemistry, including the 2014 International Conference for Magnetic Resonance in Biological Systems. His honors include the Biophysical Society’s 2023 Award for the Biophysics of Health and Disease, a Searle Scholars’ Award, a GRC Chairs’ Hall of Fame designation from the Gordon Research Conferences, and awards in both teaching and mentorship from CCNY and the UT Southwestern Medical Center.

About the Gardner Lab

The Gardner Lab studies the biophysical and biochemical basis of environmental sensing domains, exploring natural regulation, and developing methods of artificial control.

Degrees and Appointments:

1985-1989: B.S. Biochemistry, UC Davis

1989-1995: Ph.D. Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry, Yale University (mentor: J.E. Coleman)

1995-1998: postdoctoral research, University of Toronto (mentor: L.E. Kay)

1998-2014: Professor, Departments of Biochemistry and Biophysics, UT Southwestern Medical Center

2014-present: Einstein Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The City College of New York and Director, Structural Biology Initiative, ASRC

Selected Honors:

1989 B.S. with Highest Honors, UC Davis

1989-1994 HHMI Predoctoral Fellow in Structural Biology

1996-1998 Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow

1999-2002 Searle Scholar

1998-2013 W.W. Caruth Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research, UT Southwestern

Research Interests

Structural and functional studies of proteins which sense environmental change, aiming to understand natural regulation and guide artificial control.


Xiao, M.†, Dhungel, S.†, Azad, R.†, Favaro, D.C., Rajesh, R.P., Gardner, K.H.#, and Kikani, C.K.# (2024) Signal-regulated unmasking of nuclear localization motif in the PAS domain regulates the nuclear translocation of PASK. J. Mol. Biol. 2024. 168433.

Dikiy I*, Swingle D.*, Toy K, Edupuganti UR, Rivera-Cancel G, Gardner KH, Diversity of function and higher-order structure within HWE sensor histidine kinasesJ. Biol. Chem. 2023 299: 104934.

Siclari, J.J. and Gardner, K.H. (2021) Two steps, one ligand: How PPARγ binds small-molecule agonists. Structure29: 935-936. ( Abstract and full text )

J. Hart and K. Gardner. Lighting the way: Recent insights into the structure and regulation of phototropin blue light receptors. J. Biol. Chem., 2021.  DOI:10.1016/j.jbc.2021.100594

X. Xu et al. Fragile protein folds: Sequence and environmental factors affecting the equilibrium of two interconverting, stably folded protein conformations. Magn. Reson., 2021. DOI:10.5194/mr-2-63-2021

J. LaBelle et al. TAEL 2.0: An improved optogenetic expression system for zebrafish. Zebrafish, 2021. DOI:10.1089/zeb.2020.1951

X. Xu et al. Volume and compressibility differences between two stably folded protein conformations revealed by high pressure NMR. Biophys J, 2021. DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2020.12.034

I. Dikiy, U. R. Edupuganti, R. R. Abzalimov, P. P. Borbat, M. Srivastava, J. H. Freed, K. H. Gardner. Insights into histidine kinase activation mechanisms from the monomeric blue light sensor. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 2019, EL346. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1813586116.

I. Dikiy, L. Clark, K. H. Gardner, D. M. Rosenbaum. Isotopic labeling of integral membrane proteins for study by solution NMR relaxation methodsMethods Enzymol., 2019, 614, 37-65.

A. Losi, K. H. Gardner, A. Möglich. Blue-light receptors for optogenetics. Chem. Rev., 2018. DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.8b00163

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

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

A. Reade, L.B. Motta-Mena, K.H. Gardner, D.Y. Stanier, O.D. Weiner, S. Woo. TAEL: A zebrafish-optimized optogenetic gene expression system with fine spatial and temporal controlDevelopment, 2017.  DOI:  10.1242/dev.139238

L. Clark, I. Dikiy, K. Chapman, K.E. Rödström, J. Aramini, M. LeVine, G. Khelashvili, S.G.F. Rasmussen, K.H. Gardner, D.M. Rosenbaum. Ligand modulation of sidechain dynamics in a wild-type human GPCReLife, 2017. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.28505

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

F. Corrêa and K.H. Gardner. Basis of mutual domain inhibition in a bacterial signaling switch. Cell Chemical Biology, 2016.

F. Corrêa, J. Key. B. Kuhlman, K.H. Gardner. Computational repacking of the HIF-2α cavity replaces water-based stabilized coreStructure, 2016. DOI: 10.1016/j.str.2016.08.014

V. Ocasio, F. Corrêa and K.H. Gardner. Ligand-induced folding of a two-component signaling receiver domain. Biochemistry, 2015, 54, 1353-1363.

Y.  Guo, T.H. Scheuermann, C.L. Partch, D.R. Tomchick and K.H. Gardner. Coiled-coil coactivators play a structural role mediating interactions in hypoxia inducible factor heterodimerization. J. Biol. Chem., 2015, 290, 7707-7721.

T.H. Scheuermann, D. Stroud, C. Sleet, L. Bayeh, C. Shokri, H. Wang, C.G. Caldwell, J. Longgood, J.B. MacMillan, R.K. Bruick, K.H. Gardner and U.K. Tambar. Isoform-selective and stereoselective inhibition of hypoxia inducible factor-2. J. Med. Chem., 2015, 58, 5930-5941.

L.B. Motta-Mena, A. Reade, M.J. Mallory, S. Glantz, O.D. Weiner, K.W. Lynch, K.H. Gardner. An optogenetic gene expression system with rapid activation and deactivation kineticsNature Chemical Biology, 2014, 10, 196-202.

G. Rivera-Cancel, W.H. Ko, D.R. Tomchick, F. Correa, K.H. Gardner. Full-length structure of a monomeric histidine kinase reveals basis for sensory regulation, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 2014, 111, 17839-17844.

Headshot: Kevin Gardner

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