Diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and obesity are among the world’s greatest public health challenges, with the latest estimates placing global prevalence at more than 1 billion people. Although vastly different on the surface, these diverse conditions are now thought to stem, at least partially, from alterations in the epigenetic mechanisms that regulate gene expression and metabolism. Recent evidence suggests that genetic predisposition and early life, even intergenerational influences prior to birth can have life-long health consequences for future offspring.
The Pospisilik Laboratory seeks to better understand epigenetic regulatory systems and their role in disease susceptibility and heterogeneity. In addition to helping us understand how each of us is different, the lab’s goal is to translate their findings into new methods for disease prediction, prevention, diagnosis and therapy. Ultimately, they hope to develop new tools that leverage epigenetic health states to predict a person’s lifelong health outlook at birth.
Earlier work by Dr. Pospisilik and his team have resulted in a series of major advances in the field, including elucidation of some of the first molecular pathways that define healthy versus unhealthy obesity; the identification of the first disease-causing epigenetic defects in diabetes; and some first models of purely epigenetic disease.