It is widely known that DNA contains the instructions for building and running the human body. However, it is less well appreciated that the DNA is tightly packed inside cells by proteins called histones, which restrict access to the DNA sequence. There are a number of different types of histone proteins working together to package DNA, and one of the important roles of histones is to regulate the activity of genes. If gene activity is altered this can lead to a number of developmental disorders or cancers. Research in my lab aims to understand how the histone H2A.Z regulates genes. As H2A.Z is implicated in human cancers, this research will not only increase our understanding of how fundamental cellular processes are regulated but may also help us to understand and treat human diseases in the future.