Neuroepigenetics and Molecular Neuroscience
The environment can have a long-lasting effect on the organisms’ biology, physiology and behavior. While some environmental conditions can be beneficial, others can result in maladaptive responses and lead to pathologies. Over the years, many studies have shown that gene expression programs can be predisposed by environmentally induced epigenetic changes that may alter the phenotypes of the organism. The term ‘epigenetics’ refers to external chemical modifications to the DNA that affect how cells will "read" the genes, without changing the DNA sequence itself. Epigenetic processes are orchestrated by unique sets of enzymes (i.e. epigenetic modulators) and strikingly, were found to be altered by nutritional, exogenous and environmental factors.
Our lab examines how different environmental stimuli shapes the brain epigenome and regulates 3D- chromatin organization. We are interested to understand how this process leads to long-lasting changes in gene expression, neuronal activity, physiology, and behavior. A secondary goal is to understand whether epigenetic programming in the early stages of development can affect the behavioral-physiological phenotype of the adult organism and how these changes can pass onto future generations.
To deliver on our primary mission we study epigenetic mechanisms underlying:
Learning & Memory.
Brain circuits of appetite and energy balance control, in both healthy and diseased states.
Adaptive and maladaptive response to stress.