Genes are the instructions or blueprints, written in the form of DNA, for producing the proteins that form the structures and do the work of cells. Using herpes simplex virus as an example, the Triezenberg lab explored the mechanisms that turn on or read those instructions at the right time, in the right cells, in response to the right signals. We also explored similar mechanisms used for turning on genes of animals, yeast and plants. The lessons learned from this work led to a greater understanding of the genetic controls involved in development and disease for many organism, with some specific implications for new therapies for viral disease. The Triezenberg laboratory ended its operations in September 2018 after 31 years of productive research.