You Are What Your Mother Ate: The New Science of Epigenetics

Part 3: Past, Present and Future of Epigenetics

10.6.2010

Presenter: Brian Beliveau

Seven years after the completion of the Human Genome Project, we live in a world where cataloging the entire genetic sequence (genome) of an organism is a routine, rapid, and increasingly less expensive endeavor. One thing that these “blueprints” have made clear is that despite an incredible degree of genetic similarity, there remains a lot of unexplained biological diversity that cannot be accounted for by variation in our genetic (DNA) sequence alone. In fact, scientists are beginning to appreciate that there is another code of “punctuation marks” overlaying our DNA sequence: epigenetic modifications. This lecture will explore what epigenetics is and what is known about how it affects us and our offspring, current research that is beginning to make sense of the epigenetic code and the environmental factors that can influence it, how this new science got its start and where it is heading. We hope you leave with a better understanding of how to some degree, in ways scientists do not currently understand, “you are what your mother ate.”

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