I recently started my lab at Syracuse University in August, 2012. Research in my lab focuses on the epigenetic mechanisms regulating environmental programming. During my postdoctoral position in Piali Sengupta’s lab, I developed C. elegans as a model system to investigate how organisms establish and maintain a cellular memory of environmental experiences during early development. I found that animals that transiently passed through the dauer stage retain a cellular memory of their developmental experience through changes in gene expression, the genome-wide chromatin state, and behavior and physiology when compared to animals that bypassed the dauer stage. Recently, I found that small RNA populations differ between the control and postdauer adult populations, and that small RNA pathways are contributing to the observed cellular memory phenotypes. The research in my new lab will continue to investigate the role of small RNAs in the mechanism of environmental programming, and we hope that our research will contribute to the knowledge of mechanisms regulating the fetal origins of adult disease in humans.
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