Steve McKnight received his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Texas in 1974 and his PhD degree in biology from the University of Virginia in 1977. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Carnegie Institution of Washington under the mentorship of Donald Brown and was appointed as a staff member of that institution in 1983. He was appointed as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator in 1988. His research focus at the Carnegie Institution was on gene regulation. He used molecular biological methods to define the regulatory DNA sequences constituting the promoter of the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase gene, then employed biochemical methods to purify gene specific transcription factors including members of the C/EBP and GABP families of transcription factors.

In 1991 Dr. McKnight left academia to co-found Tularik, a San Francisco-based biotechnology company devoted to the discovery of ethical drugs acting to treat disease state via the regulation of gene expression. In 1995 Dr. McKnight moved from Tularik to UT Southwestern and in 1996 he was appointed as chairman of the Department of Biochemistry. Over the past 11 years Dr. McKnight has directed an active research laboratory and has guided the Department of Biochemistry to substantial growth in the disciplines of chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics. Dr. McKnight is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


University of Texas at Austin (1974)
Graduate School
University of Virginia Main Ca (1977)
Graduate School
(2016), Biology

Research Interest

  • circadian rhythm
  • gene regulation
  • intracellular signaling
  • metabolic rhythms
  • neurogenesis


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Logic of the Yeast Metabolic Cycle: Temporal Compartmentalization of Cellular Processes.
Tu, Kudlicki, Rowicka and McKnight
Restriction of DNA Replication to the Reductive Phase of the Metabolic Cycle Protects Genome Integrity.
Chen, Odstrcil, Tu and McKnight Science 2007 316 1916-1919.
Metabolic Cycles as an Underlying Basis of Biological Oscillations
Tu and McKnight Nature Reviews of Molecular and Cell Biology 2006 7 696-701
The Neuronal PAS Domain Protein 3 Transcription Factor Controls FGF-mediated Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis in Mice.
Pieper, Wu, Han, Estill, Dang, Wu, Reece-Fincanon, Dudley, Richardson, Brat and McKnight PNAS 2005 102 14,052-14,057
Behavioral and Regulatory Abnormalities in Mice Deficient in the NPAS1 and NPAS3 Transcription Factors
Erbel-Sieler, Dudley, Zhou, Wu, Estill, Han, Diaz-Arrastia, Brunskill, Potter and McKnight PNAS 2004 101 13,648-13,653

Honors & Awards

  • John Enders Lecture
    Harvard University (1993)
  • Monsanto Award
    National Academy of Sciences (1991)
  • Eli Lilly Award
    American Society for Microbiology (1989)
  • Newcomb Cleveland Award
    AAAS (1989)
  • DeWitt Stetten Lecture
    National Institutes of Health (1987)

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • American Chemical Society
  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Institute of Medicine
  • National Academy of Sciences