December 4, 2012: Epigenetics

Science Pub RVA #5

Epigenetics:  How environmental influences are inherited across generations


Shirley M. Taylor, Ph.D.

How we develop and age is a complex process. DNA is not the whole story and nature versus nurture isn’t so clear-cut. Recent advances in technology are giving scientists new tools to study how nature interacts with nurture. While every cell in our body contains the same genetic information, it’s epigenetics (or “outside genetics”) that distinguishes your muscle cells from brain cells. Come learn about chemical modifications that occur in both our DNA and the surrounding proteins and how they are responsible for packaging different sets of genes into active or inactive states.

Get answers to what causes complex illnesses associated with aging like cancer, obesity and heart disease. Discover why one identical twin remains disease-free, while their twin is stricken with an illness. Question a local scientist about how the experience of extreme starvation of an individual has a greater effect on their grandchildren than their children. Discuss how environmental factors cause long-term impacts on our epigenome.