Our laboratory is studying how genetics and the environment conspire to cause diseases, including cancer, aging, and neuropsychiatric illness. Early work from our group involved the discovery of altered DNA methylation in cancer, as well as common epigenetic (methylation and imprinting) variants in the population that may be responsible for a significant population-attributable risk of cancer. Over the last few years, our laboratory has pioneered the field of epigenomics, i.e. epigenetics at a genome-scale level, founding the first NIH-supported epigenome center in the country, and developing many novel tools for molecular and statistical analysis, and applying them to stem cell biology, cancer, metabolic disease, and neuropsychiatric disease. We are also studying changes between identical twins in space, comparing samples from Scott Kelly in the International Space Station to his identical twin Mark on Earth, to assess longitudinal changes in these very different environments.
We are also pursuing a novel model of genetically driven stochastic epigenetic plasticity in evolution and development, which may help to explain Lamarckian-like inheritance, reconciling epigenetics with Darwinism. We have identified a key role of epigenetic stochasticity driving metastasis, allowing the tumor to select for traits that give it a growth advantage in a changing host environment. Cancer appears to be driven in large measure by epigenetic plasticity. We have been developing mathematical predictive tools for the epigenome and are applying them to human diseases such as cancer. Finally, we are exploiting novel genetically diverse mouse strains to understand how prenatal nutrition can drive stochastic variation and susceptibility to common diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and autism.
- Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Whiting School of Engineering, and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
- King Fahd Professor of Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, Mental Health, Oncology, Biostatistics, Molecular Biology & Genetics, and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
- Director, Center for Epigenetics
- Chief, Division of Molecular Medicine
Affiliated Centers & Institutes
- MPH, Johns Hopkins University, 1981
- MD, Johns Hopkins University, 1976
- BA, Johns Hopkins University, Biology, 1973
April 11, 2019After returning from space, astronaut has no lingering, major epigenetic differences from earthbound twin brotherIn a landmark study, a group of U.S. scientists from Johns Hopkins, Stanford University and other institutions has found no long-lasting, major differences between the epigenomes of astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent a year in space aboard the International Space Station, and his twin brother, Mark, who remained on Earth.
January 16, 2019In a new study focusing on four regions of normal human brain tissue, Johns Hopkins scientists have found about 13,000 regions of epigenetic differences between neurons in different brain regions that vary by at least 10 percent.
April 10, 2018In a review article published April 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientist Andrew Feinberg, M.D., calls for more integration between two fields of DNA-based research: genetics and epigenetics.