Winnie Tang Epigenetics Laboratory
Image created by Nicolas Bouvier; courtesy of Genevieve Almouzni.
What is Epigenetics?
Our lab's current research focuses on deciphering how environmental pollutants/allergen and dietary factors alter the epigenome via DNA de/methylation and induce chromatin remodeling, leading to cancer or other common diseases like asthma and cardiovascular disease.
Epigenetic Disruption of Gene Expression in Disease Development
Susceptibility of disease was believed to be determined solely by gene mutations, deletions, gene fusion, tandem duplications, or gene amplifications causing dysregulation of gene expression that underlies the genesis of disease. However, it has recently become clear that epigenetic disruption of gene expression plays an equally important role in the development of disease. Epigenetic reprogramming becomes one of the determinant of origins of human disease as there is a relatively long gestation, a period of postnatal and perhaps life-time allow for prolonged interactions with the environment including hypo- or hyper-nourishment, infection, hormonal, drug, or toxin exposures. It is believed that genes altered by environment may be "transmitted" to next generation via epigenetic alteration.
Translating Epigenetic Studies to Human Population Studies
Results from the epigenetic studies in laboratory can be further validated in populations. For example, many epidemiological studies showed the association between environmental exposure and complex diseases like type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, asthma and cancer. It is believed that genes altered by environment may be "transmitted" to next generation via epigenetic alteration. Therefore, our ultimate goal is translating our epigenetic studies to human population studies. It helps to improve the use of the diagnostic technologies and establishes new pharmacological approach for the diseases.