Welcome to our Lab!
The research in our lab focuses on non-genetic inheritance of cancer predisposition. Each parent contributes half of their genome to their offspring, but at conception they also transmit a molecular memory of past environmental experiences to their progeny through epigenetic mechanisms. This epigenetic memory, stored in non-coding RNAs and other molecules, can determine the fate of organs in the developing embryo and make it more or less prone to developing chronic diseases such as cancer. Through our research, we seek to understand how paternal obesity, dietary patterns, stress and exposure to environmental toxicants before conception can modulate the risk for cancer in the next generation, including cancers of the breast and pancreas as well as neuroblastoma. We use animal models, in vitro systems, human cohorts, and molecular biology techniques to answer our questions.
Working with our collaborators, our goal in the long run is to translate the findings from our animal models to the clinic. We want to develop molecular markers of cancer risk to identify a specific subset of patients that may have an epigenetic predisposition to developing cancers and who may benefit from epigenetic or other therapies. From a public health perspective, our studies can have an impact on our understanding of how lifestyle choices and environmental exposures can influence an individual’s health as well as the well-being of future generations.