We focus on epigenetics, the mechanisms that modify DNA structure and consequently affect gene regulation without influencing the DNA base sequence. Epigenome, consisting of epigenetic marks such as DNA methylation and histone modifications, is essential for the normal development of a multicellular organism. Cell-type-specific epigenetic profiles for appropriate gene function will be formed and inherited by the daughter cells. Changes in the epigenome are essential for normal development, but are also induced by environmental exposures, diseases and stochastic events.
Unraveling the molecular mechanisms of environmental effects on embryonic development will clarify the fundamental phenomena, the roles of nature and nurture in our phenotypes. In addition to the etiology of complex phenotypes, we will reveal biomarkers, which will advance personalized medicine and enable retailed treatments and support for affected individuals.