The broad goal of my research program is to investigate gene environment interactions and their individual and combined impact on human disease, with a particular focus on the impact of the environment on epigenetic regulation of the genome. My research has focused on two distinct, yet highly related biologic processes, that of environmental carcinogenesis and that of human development. In those settings, I am studying alterations to epigenetic marks, which may be responsible, in a significant part, for cancer, adverse pregnancy outcomes, common and rare diseases of childhood including behavioral disorders. We focus on DNA methylation and miRNA expression as our key epigenetic mechanisms of interest.
This research aims to provide a sound scientific basis for this emerging paradigm that is taking shape on the heels of the realization that there are fetal origins to many adult diseases. My laboratory is taking approaches both in controlled in-vitro experiments, as well as in utilizing the power of epidemiology to study the effects of the environment on multiple facets of epigenetic regulation, and thereby creating a novel interdisciplinary approach to understanding the pathogenesis of human disease. Paramount to meeting my objectives is creating a collaborative and multidisciplinary team of clinicians, epidemiologists, biologists, and statisticians who, by working with me, are committed to combining efforts to reach these goals. Such a combined effort is absolutely necessary to accomplish this work, and will certainly open up entirely new avenues for research both here at Brown and beyond.