cores: The Neuro-Epigenetics Program
The Neuro-Epigenetics Program

Researchers in neurogenetics are just beginning to see the importance of little-studied processes such as methylation – the addition of methyl groups to DNA, as a way of silencing specific genes. The goal of neurogenetics is to understand which genes are silenced and what the consequences are of silencing them. Trained as a psychiatrist and neuroscientist, Andy Feinberg, M.D. is an international leader in epigenetics and until now, he has not had the opportunity to study epigenetics in the brain. Dr. Feinberg has developed state-of-the-art microarray chips to detect methylation of genes and we anticipate that many groups will want to utilize his expertise and Center. The BSi has supported the expansion of this novel epigenetic resource to make it available to Johns Hopkins University neuroscientists. To help set priorities for the use of the Epigenetics Center, the Scientific Review Panel will review and provide small grant support for studies to be conducted. Additionally, The School of Medicine is devoting new space to this Center.

Andrew Feinberg, M.D.
Andrew Feinberg, M.D. was an undergraduate at Yale and received the M.D. (1976) and M.P.H. (1981) from Johns Hopkins. Early in his career, Dr. Feinberg made the first discoveries of epigenetic alterations in human disease, i.e. involving changes in the DNA other than the primary sequence, now one of the most important fields of oncology. He then made a series of key observations in human epigenetics, identifying the first human imprinted genes, i.e. showing parent of origin-specific expression; the organization of imprinting control into contiguous gene domains; the first antisense RNA associated with disease; and loss of imprinting (LOI) of the insulin-like growth factor-II gene (IGF2) in cancer. LOI of IGF2 represents the first common risk marker for cancer in the general population, and most recently he has shown in both animal models and in humans that LOI of IGF2 leads to an epigenetically altered stem cell population, tying the stem cell hypothesis of cancer to epigenetic mechanisms. More recently, he has pioneered the nascent field of epigenomics, performing the first large scale comparative genetic analysis and leading the first American epigenome center. As part of the center, he organized an innovative mentorship program for gifted minority high school students. Dr. Feinberg is also an accomplished inventor, with many molecular tools to his credit, including random priming, the second most cited paper in science.  Dr. Feinberg can be reached by email at or by phone 410-614-3489.

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