Skip to main content
Steve Kay

Steve Kay

Dean of USC Dornsife

Watch a video introduction to Dean Kay

Read Dean Kay's Nov. 7, 2012, installation remarks

Read Dean Kay's Sept. 3, 2013, faculty address

Follow Dean Kay on Twitter

As the 21st dean of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences since 2012, Dr. Steve Kay oversees USC’s largest, oldest and most academically diverse school. He also holds the Anna H. Bing Dean’s Chair in addition to faculty appointments in molecular and computational biology as well as in neurology, physiology and biophysics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Dr. Kay, who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), is one of the world’s top experts on genes and circadian rhythms. He has published more than 200 papers and has been cited in Science magazine’s “Breakthroughs of the Year” three times since 1997.

Dr. Kay’s research has contributed significantly to the understanding of the genetic basis for circadian rhythms, which serve as the body’s clock for timing the day-night cycle. Recently his group and others explored the ties between circadian rhythms and the body’s metabolism, helping to explain why night-shift workers, frequent travelers and others with disrupted circadian rhythms appear more prone to metabolic disorders. This investigation has led his team to discover a chemical that regulates our biological clock that in turn could be used to develop completely new drugs to treat metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes.

Prior to joining USC in 2012, Dr. Kay served as dean of biological sciences at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) since 2007. Under his leadership, the Division of Biological Sciences moved into The Center for World-Class Universities’ top 10 global university rankings for life sciences.

Dr. Kay, who has studied genetics and genomics, received his Ph.D. and D.Sc. from the University of Bristol, United Kingdom. He has also held faculty positions at The Rockefeller University, University of Virginia and The Scripps Research Institute — as well as served as the director of discovery research at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, where he helped build research programs applying human genome science to biomedical research and drug discovery. In addition, he has founded several biotechnology companies, the latest of which is Reset Therapeutics, a San Francisco-based drug development corporation.

In 2008, Dr. Kay was elected as a member of the NAS, in 2009 he was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2010 he was awarded the UCSD Chancellor’s Associates Faculty Award for Excellence in Research. He was chosen to receive the American Society of Plant Biologists’ 2011 Martin Gibbs Medal for his pioneering work in plant sciences.