Epigenetics is the study of changes in the way information stored in DNA is expressed, without direct modification of the genetic code. Some epigenetic changes are part of normal development and aging, but environmental health scientists are studying how environmental factors can cause negative epigenetic changes. NIEHS is focused on a variety of research projects that use state-of-the-art technologies to analyze epigenetic changes caused by environmental exposures. NIEHS-funded researchers use animals, cell cultures, and human tissue samples to pinpoint how epigenetic changes could lead to harmful health effects, and perhaps, be passed down to the next generation. Additionally, the Roadmap Epigenomics Program is a trans-NIH program administered by NIEHS and other NIH institutes and centers. This program investigates epigenetic changes across genomes and correlates the presence or absence of specific changes with the development of disease. One major goal is to develop a set of reference epigenomes for normal human tissues and cell types for comparison with diseased tissues and cells.
For more information, visit our NIEHS Environmental Epigenetics webpage.