DNA contains the blueprint for life. Deciphering this blueprint requires transcribing DNA (genes) into RNA and then translating RNA into protein. Precise control of when and where genes are expressed is essential for every aspect of reproduction, growth, and development. Misregulation of gene expression program underlies the etiology of many human diseases, such as cancer. In addition to acting as a messenger for gene expression, RNA performs additional diverse and essential functions in the cell. For instance, a class of RNA termed non-coding RNAs perform a multitude of gene regulatory, structural, and catalytic functions within animals cells. Additionally, small regulatory RNAs such as piRNAs, siRNAs, miRNAs engage in sequence specific interactions with other RNAs to regulate gene expression, to transmit gene regulatory information across generations, inhibit viral infections, and defend genomes against parasitic nucleic acids. The Kennedy lab is exploring the underlying mechanisms by which long non-coding RNAs and small regulatory RNAs regulate transcription and chromatin states during reproduction and development, protect the genome from transposable elements and viruses, and drive the inheritance of epigenetic states across generational boundaries. Summaries of some lab projects can be accessed via the links below.