Aggregates of the SAGA protein Ataxin-7 in Spinocerebellar Ataxia-7 astrocytes. Courtesy of Sean McCullough, graduate student in Dr. Patrick Grant's laboratory.
Research in Epigenetics at UVA focuses on the study of heritable changes in phenotype and gene function that are not caused by direct alterations in DNA sequence.

DNA in eukaryotic cells is packaged into chromatin by histone proteins.  DNA-driven cellular processes such as gene expression require alteration of chromatin structure to access this packaged DNA.  Epigenetic changes, including chromatin remodeling, histone exchange, or chemical modification of histone proteins, affect access to chromatin DNA. Modifications to the chromatin through processes such as DNA methylation and histone acetylation are being increasingly appreciated as key determinants of cellular phenotype.  Epigenetic chromatin modification is also influenced by environmental factors and can be stably transmitted across generations.

Improved understanding of epigenetic processes is producing exciting advances in cancer detection and treatment. For example, epigenetic profiles can improve cancer detection, and new anti-cancer drugs target the chromatin modifying machinery.

The UVA epigenetics research groups utilize model organisms, mammalian cells and human-derived samples in their studies.  A variety of experimental approaches, including biochemistry, genetics, genome-wide analysis and bioinformatics, and behavioral studies are being applied to study epigenetic mechanisms and changes associated with human disease.

Faculty

  • Roger Abounader
    Basic and translational brain tumor research
  • Mazhar Adli
    Understanding and manipulating the genetics and epigenetics information to study stem cells, differentiation and cancer
  • David T. Auble
    Molecular Mechanisms of Transcriptional Regulation
  • Stefan Bekiranov
    Physical Modeling of Microarray Hybridization; Analysis of Genomic Tiling Array Data; Bioinformatics; Computational Biology; Regulatory Networks
  • Timothy P. Bender
    Regulation of gene expression during lymphocyte development
  • Sanchita Bhatnagar
    Epigenetic Silencing Mechanisms-Implications in Breast Cancer and Rett Syndrome
  • Jessica J. Connelly
    Epigenetic mechanisms involved in complex human disease
  • Anindya Dutta
    Genomic Instability in Cancer Cells; Noncoding RNAs in differentiation and cancer
  • Robin A. Felder
    Clinical Chemistry and Toxicology. Medical Automation Research. Neurotransmitters, cell surface receptors and intracellular second messengers.
  • Adam N. Goldfarb
    Hematopathology and Understanding the Molecular Basis of Hematopoiesis and Leukemogenesis
  • R. Ariel Gomez
    Ontogeny of renin-angiotensis system, differentiation of the JG cell.
  • Patrick A. Grant
    Transcription; Chromatin Modifications, Neurodegenerative Disease, Cancer
  • Michael J. Guertin
    Transcription, Chromatin, Cancer, Molecular Biology, Genomics, and Computational Biology
  • Thurl E Harris
    Molecular mechanisms controlling insulin signaling and fat synthesis.
  • Joel W. Hockensmith
    Novel antiprotozoan and anticancer compounds from antibiotic-resistant bacteria
  • Mark Kester
    Nanotechnologies for targeted drug delivery
  • Jonathan Kipnis
    Neuroimmunology and glia biology in cognition, neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration
  • Hui Li
    Gene regulation in cancer, RNA processing; Epigenetic modification; Stem cell and development
  • Wendy J. Lynch
    Behavioral Pharmacology, Sex Differences, Animal Models of Addiction
  • Marty W. Mayo
    Transcriptional Regulation by NFKB
  • Michael J McConnell
    The Cause and Consequence of Somatic Mosaicism in Neurons
  • Gary K. Owens
    Epigenetic Control of Perivascular and Stem Cell Plasticity/Trans-Differentiation during Injury-Repair and in Disease
  • Kwon-Sik Park
    Mechanisms of tumor progression and homeostasis
  • Lucy F. Pemberton
    Nuclear Transport in Chromatin Assembly and Transcriptional Regulation
  • David M. Rekosh
    Human Immunodeficiency; Virus Gene Expression
  • Michael M. Scott
    Investigation of the neuronal circuits and epigenetic modifications involved in the control of food and drug reward
  • Nathan Sheffield
    Computational regulatory genomics
  • Jogender Tushir Singh
    Tailored fit targeting approaches: Cancer Immunotherapy, Bispecific Antibodies, Antibody-siRNA conjugates, Application in Cancer therapeutics
  • Jeffrey S. Smith
    Transcriptional Silencing and Aging in Yeast
  • M. Mitchell Smith
    Functional Genomics of Histones, Chromatin, and Protein Acetylation Signaling in Cancer and the Cell Cycle
  • P. Todd Stukenberg
    Mechanisms of chromosome segregation in Mitosis and generation of Chromosomal Instability in tumors
  • David Wotton
    Regulation of Gene Expression, Development and Tumor Progression by TGF beta Signaling