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Cambridge Reproduction SRI

 

My research involves exploring the developmental defects due to prenatal exposure to a class of drugs that act by inhibiting histone deacetylases. Histone deacetylases are enzymes that remove acetyl groups from histones, the proteins that DNA is wrapped around within a cell. By inhibiting these enzymes, these drugs directly affect how open or closed DNA chromosomes are, potentially drastically affecting gene expression. Some of these drugs have clinical applications, including as treatment for epilepsy and various psychiatric disorders, or as a dietary supplement to alleviate digestive ailments. Due to their impact on gene expression, when taken during pregnancy they can severely alter the development of a growing foetus. My research involves the use of both stem cell and mouse models to investigate the molecular mechanisms behind these deleterious effects, with a particular focus on sex-specific differences in the developing offspring.