2019 - Epigenetic Stress Memory
The Genetics Graduate Program
at Michigan State University
Presents a Mini-Symposium On
Epigenetic Stress Memory
Tuesday, May 7th, 2019
8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Molecular Plant Sciences, Room 1200
1066 Bogue Street
Michigan State University
Hasan Khatib, Ph.D.
Professor of Genetics
Department of Animal Science
The University of Wisconsin-Madison
Title: Transgenerational Epigenetic Effects of Nutrition: How Strong is the Evidence?
The goal of our research is to understand the contributions of epigenetics to production, reproduction, and health traits. Currently, we are focused on the transgenerational epigenetic effects of paternal and maternal nutrition on phenotypes of the next generations in livestock. Over the last years, the Khatib laboratory has contributed to the discovery of many imprinted genes in cattle and to understanding their roles in embryonic development. Another objective is to identify and characterize genes and epigenetic markers as predictors of embryo development and fertility using non-invasive methods. Recently, we showed that Day-5 bovine embryos secrete microRNAs into the extracellular environment and that these small molecules play important roles in the epigenetic fetal-mother communication.
A.J. Robison, Ph.D.
Department of Physiology
Michigan State University
Title: Transcriptional and Epigenetic Mechanisms of Stress-Induced Depression-Like Phenotypes in Mice
The Robison Lab studies circuit-specific gene transcription in the hippocampus as it relates to three main areas: drug addiction, mood disorders/aggression, and cognitive dysfunction/Alzheimer’s disease. We use mouse behavioral models, electrophysiology, molecular biology, and biochemistry to uncover disease etiology from the function of genes all the way up to the function of the whole organism. More recently, we have expanded our research program to explore the role of the gut microbiome and related immune cells in gut-brain axis communication driving aggressive behavior and susceptibility to both adult and early-life stress.
Tania Roth, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Education
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
University of Delaware
Title: Epigenetic and Behavioral Consequences of Stress and Adversity
Understanding the biological roots of behavior is critical for informing intervention work and public health policy decisions aimed at promoting healthy child development and mental health. Our primary interests center on identifying epigenetic changes associated with early-life caregiving experiences and understanding their causal role in behavioral outcome. Our work has led to the discovery that even mild and brief negative experiences can leave their marks on DNA to influence later life behavior. We have also discovered that the epigenome can be changed after adversity. Altogether, this helps us understand the brain’s capacity to change because of experience, reveals some of the mechanisms driving the development of behavior, and identifies important targets for intervention and policy work.
Robert VanBuren, Ph.D.
Plant Resilience Institute
Department of Horticulture
Michigan State University
Title: Utilizing Evolutionary Innovation to Improve Plant Resilience
The VanBuren lab applies an integrative genomic, quantitative genetics, and evolutionary approach to understand the genetic basis of natural adaptations to drought stress. My lab studies two natural adaptations to water deficit: the extreme desiccation tolerance of resurrection plants and the high water use efficiency of CAM photosynthesis. Resurrection plants endure a dormant, desiccated state in regions that receive no rainfall for 6-9 months and an optimized photosynthetic pathway allows CAM plants to thrive in arid environments. Our goal is to use these evolutionary innovations to engineer improved stress tolerance and resilience into crop plants.
Xuehua Zhong, Ph.D.
Wisconsin Institute of Discovery Laboratory of Genetics
University of Wisconsin- Madison
Title: Epigenetic Regulation of Environmental Adaptation and Memory
Epigenetic modification plays critical roles in many biological processes including genome integrity, development, environmental responses, and diseases. The overarching goal of our research is to uncover how versatile developmental and environmental signals trigger epigenetic modifications, how cells are instructed to deposit the modification correctly in the genome, and how epigenetic mechanism enables the genome to generate adaptive responses. We are also interested in dissecting the molecular mechanism of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. We address these questions at the whole genome level by combining functional genomics, genetic, proteomic, biochemical, cell biological, and structural approaches.
Wanding Zhou, Ph.D.
Van Andel Research Institute
Title: The Multifaceted DNA Methylation Alteration During Tumorigenesis, Organismal Development and Across Generations
Wanding Zhou is a postdoctoral fellow working at the Van Andel Research Institute. The goal of his work is to elucidate the structure and cellular origin of epigenetic alterations that occur during organismal development and disease initiation and progression using computational methods that integrate multi-comics data. His research focuses on the bioinformatics of DNA methylation. Thus far, Wanding has worked on a diverse range of bioinformatics topics including, but not limited to, integrating multi-omics data to study DNA methylation alterations in cancer, analyzing structural variations in cancer genomics, annotating somatic mutations for clinical use, and reconstructing the evolutionary history of microbial metabolism. He spearheaded the identification of DNA methylation loss as a mitotic clock in mammalian cells. He is the lead author of multiple bioinformatics tools including TransVar, BISCUIT, and SeSAMe. His research interest includes population-based epigenome-wide association analysis and method development for epigenetic data integration.