School of Medicine

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  • Dan Christoffel

    Dan Christoffel

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Neurosciences

    Current Research and Scholarly Interests My long-term goals are to understand the distinct modes of plasticity present in different synaptic types, how these mechanisms encode experience to regulate behavior, and uncover what role they play in psychiatric disorders.

    I am currently investigating specific circuits involved in reward and consummatory behaviors. Through synapse-specific modulation, I hope to uncover how various glutamatergic inputs to the nucleus accumbens regulate behaviors involved in reward seeking.

  • Bo Zhou

    Bo Zhou

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Neurosciences

    Current Research and Scholarly Interests Genetic information encoded in our DNA sequence are inherited from our parents and determine our own unique appearance and predisposition to certain diseases. Recent scientific findings have revealed that patterns of molecular modification (methylation) on the Cs in our DNA sequence can also be inherited from our parents. These methylation patterns vary from individual to individual and regulate important biological processes inside the various cell types of our bodies. Although the mechanisms of how these methylation patterns regulate biological processes is very poorly understood, more and more cases have confirmed that diseases including many types of cancer may develop when erroneous DNA methylation occurs in an individual. Interestingly, in many instances, the DNA sequences inherited paternally and maternally are asymmetrically methylated, and this phenomenon, also known as imprinting, has been associated with the preferential silencing of either paternally or maternally inherited genes. Though this phenomenon is thought to occur throughout our DNA, due to mainly technological limitations, only a handful of such imprinted genes has been identified in humans, and as a result, very little is known about how the process of imprinting regulates our biology in healthy or diseased states including cancer, neurological disorders, and possibly psychiatric illnesses as well. I am interested in developing a method to not only capture the entire methylation pattern in one’s DNA but also place this this pattern in the context of paternal and maternal inheritance such that all the imprinted regions in one’s DNA can also be identified. Such a method will serve as an important stepping-stone in furthering our understanding of the rules and mechanisms that govern the biology of DNA methylation and how to leverage them in the treatment of human disease.