“Epigenetics and its Influence on our Health”

Beirut campus, Byblos campus

The Department of Natural Sciences is hosting a seminar entitled “Epigenetics and its Influence on our Health” to be given by Dr. Nady El Hajj, a scholar at the Institute for Human Genetics at the University of Wuerzburg in Germany.

Epigenetic modifications in form of DNA methylation and histone modifications, can cause changes in gene expression, which are transmitted to daughter cells during somatic cell division and, perhaps also from one generation to the next. It is well known that the epigenome(s) is highly plastic, particularly during early development and susceptible to internal genetic signals and to external environmental cues. The pre- and postconceptional period is not only critical for embryonal, placental, and fetal development, as well as the outcome at birth, but may also lead to persistent changes in the epigenome influencing disease susceptibilities or leading to variable phenotypic outcomes later in life. There are sensitive time windows during early development, where environmental or genetic cues can program persistent epigenetic modifications.

In this talk, Dr. El Hajj will present data showing:

1) how various assisted reproductive technologies interfere with epigenetic reprogramming in germ cells and embryos

2) how advanced parental age might affect offspring health from an epigenetic perspective

3) how epigenetic changes due to maternal gestational diabetes may predispose the offspring to develop metabolic disease later in life

4) how variable epigenetic changes in fetal brains, due to trans-interactions of an extra chromosome 21, might help explain cognitive dysfunction in Down Syndrome patients.

The lecture will be held in Block A room 710-711 on the Byblos campus and in Riyad Nassar Library Dr. Najla Atiyah 1301 on the Beirut campus.

All are welcome to attend.