Genome Function and Epigenetics

The relevance of environmental context to the expression of the genome is unequivocal. Environmental perturbations reshape biological networks, alter regulatory responses, and modulate the emergence of phenotypic variation and disease risk.

Our laboratory pursues research themes in epigenetics and cellular memory using a variety of approaches and techniques. The challenge is to understand and manipulate environmentally modulated genetic diseases. A wiser student likes to call it genetically modulated environmental diseases.

Three complementary sets of research themes are being pursued. One set is centered on Y-chromosome heterochromatin and the biology of repetitious segments: their genetic and epigenetic variation, and manifold functional consequences. Another set of questions is centered on the systems biology of regulatory variation, epigenetic networks, and the dynamics of genotype-by-environmental interaction. A third set of questions addresses individual responses to the environment and the mechanisms through which environmental stress creates epi-alleles that are stable between generations.

We approach our research questions through careful genomic experimentation and integrative computational analyses. These are blended with rigorous genetic manipulations within a variety of environmental contexts.