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Your Environment. Your Health.

Environmental Epigenetics

Epigenetic changes modify the way genetic information is expressed without directly changing the genetic code stored in DNA. Although some epigenetic changes are part of normal development and aging, environmental health scientists are concerned that environmental factors may cause epigenetic changes that lead to health problems or disease.

Epigenetic changes likely play an important role in development and are thought to be involved in a wide range of diseases and disorders, including autoimmune and neurodevelopmental disorders, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

What NIEHS Is Doing

Scientists funded through NIEHS work to better understand the link between environmental exposures and epigenetic regulation of gene expression, and how these interactions may affect human health and disease. Using state-of-the-art technologies, they analyze epigenetic changes caused by exposure to metals, air pollution, tobacco smoke, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as bisphenol A, tributyltin, pesticides, and phthalates, and other contaminants. The researchers use animals, cell cultures, human tissue samples, and population-based studies to pinpoint how epigenetic changes might lead to harmful health effects, which are potentially passed to future generations.

NIEHS-funded environmental epigenetics research may profoundly alter the way we understand, diagnose, and treat disease. It could enhance our understanding of how environmental factors influence epigenetic processes and their subsequent involvement in human health and disease.

Currently Funded Programs

  • Utilizing In Vitro Functional Genomics Advances for Gene-Environment (G x E) Discovery and Validation program investigates the interplay between environment, genetics, and epigenetics to better understand host susceptibility to environmental exposures relevant to human health and disease using latest advances in in vitro functional genomic advances to do that.
  • The Toxicant Exposures and Responses by Genomic and Epigenomic Regulators of Transcription (TaRGET) Program aims to increase our understanding of how exposures affect and interact with functional and regulatory processes that lead to certain patterns of epigenetic changes.

For additional information on what NIEHS epigenetics grantees are doing, visit our Who We Fund webpage.

Learn more about the environmental health topic of epigenetics in the Health and Education section.

Program Contacts

Program Lead for TaRGET, Animal, Basic, and Mechanistic Research

Frederick L. Tyson
Fred Tyson, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator
Tel 984-287-3334
Fax 919-564-5064
tyson2@niehs.nih.gov
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop K3-15
Durham, N.C. 27709

Program Lead for Gene-environment Interactions and Population Based Research

Kimberly A. McAllister, Ph.D.
Kimberly McAllister, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator
Tel 984-287-3287
Fax 919-316-4606
mcallis2@niehs.nih.gov
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop K3-12
Durham, N.C. 27709

Program Lead for Population Based Research

Bonnie R. Joubert, Ph.D.
Bonnie R. Joubert, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator
Tel 984-287-3276
bonnie.joubert@nih.gov
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop K3-12
Durham, N.C. 27709

Program Lead for Preconception and Transgenerational Inheritance Studies

Thaddeus Schug, Ph.D.
Thaddeus T. Schug, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator
Tel 984-287-3319
schugt2@niehs.nih.gov
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop K3-15
Durham, N.C. 27709
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