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Which subset of genes is switched on or off in a particular cell must be controlled very carefully as the genes that are switched on in a cell determine the identity of the cell, and also enable the cell to carry out its specialized functions. Christian studies proteins that are involved in changing the accessibility of chromatin (the mixture of proteins and DNA that makes up chromosomes) to proteins required to switch on genes. One of the protein complexes that Christian studies is the SWI/SNF protein complex, which uses chemical energy to make chromatin more accessible to other proteins.