Laboratory J. Andrew Pospisilik
Epigenetic control of phenotypic variation and disease
We aim to answer the question, “Who could I have been?”. Our lab aims to challenge dogmas in understanding the mechanisms underpinning disease and evolution. Current estimates place the prevalence of diabetes, neurodegeneration, cancer and obesity beyond 1 billion individuals worldwide. These represent the world’s chief economic and health care challenges of the day. While studies have established elegant genetic frameworks for our current understanding of these complex disorders the contribution of a number of critical regulatory layers, in particular developmental and epigenetic regulation, remains poorly understood.
Our lab is interested in understanding epigenetic regulatory systems that contribute to phenotypic variation and thus to disease susceptibility. These paradigms include, among others, metabolic- and signaling-mediated changes to post-translational modifications of histones, non-coding RNAs, and modifiers of chromatin stability such as the Polycomb-Trithorax Groups. What is clear at present is that these epigenetic effectors play a critical role in defining set-points for entire functional gene sets; the fundamental outstanding question we are interested in is how these epigenetic cues influence the susceptibility and development of human disease. Our efforts are split into two avenues