Environmental Epigenetics

Epigenetic changes control the way genetic information is expressed without altering genetic codes stored in DNA. Environmental exposures can induce epigenetic changes, but the extent of epigenetic damage depends on the life-history stages of the organism exposed. Our laboratory is trying to understand how environmental stressors (chemical or non-chemical) induce epigenetic changes that result in adverse health outcomes or disease. Utilizing animal models (fish and rodents), cell co-cultures (2D and 3D spheroids), human tissue samples, and population-based studies, we are trying to pinpoint how epigenetic changes lead to harmful health effects, which can be transmitted to future generations. Research is no FUN without “D” in it, so we are seeking research FUNDS (US federal and/or private foundations) to identify genetic and epigenetic biomarkers that explain past exposures and predict future health.

Current projects include understanding mechanisms of epigenetic reprogramming and environmentally induced epigenetic aberrations in germ cells. The stressors we focus on are pharmaceuticals, pesticides, plasticizers, fire retardants, cannabinoids (including metabolites), and engineered nanoparticles.

Interested in research?

Our laboratory is seeking graduate students (M.S. and Ph.D.) to participate in environmental epigenetics and transgenerational health research. Undergraduate students (sophomores and juniors) can register for Bio-499 research credit. All interested persons should contact Dr. Ramji Bhandari  (for further details.  If you are a potential graduate (Ph.D.) student and would like to apply for a fellowship through philanthropic foundations, NSF or NIH, please contact me ahead of time.