The primary goal of our Molecular Epidemiology Division is to understand how complex interactions between the environment and the genome/epigenome contribute to human diseases. We are applying epi/genetic tools and methodologies in population studies to elucidate disease mechanism and to identify and validate biomarkers for disease risk or prognosis. Such work is of great importance in identifying disease-causing exposures, clarifying disease etiology, designing prevention strategies through lifestyle modifications, and even assisting disease treatment and management.
Our research is focused in two primary areas:
Cancer Epi/genomics: We incorporate environmental measurements (questionnaire, biomarkers), genomic/epigenomic tools (gene expression, SNPs, methylation, and microRNAs), and bioinformatics into large epidemiologic studies to systematically evaluate the role of environment on cancer risk and progression.
Placenta Epi/genomics in Fetal and Child Development: As an interface between maternal and fetal environment, placenta is the source of fetal nutrients and immune regulation, as well as a barrier for environmental toxins. Utilizing resources of several birth cohorts, we are actively studying how an adverse in utero environment, such as maternal stress or exposure to toxic chemicals, influences the placental genome and epigenome in relation to birth outcomes and child neurodevelopment.