NNF Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen
Physical traits are set by a complex interaction between genes and environment. Our cells not only contain genetic (DNA) but also an additional, epigenetic information which allows for genes to be differentially expressed in time and space. For example, although the DNA code is similar in the brain and the heart these two organs exert dramatically different shapes and function.
We and others have showed that environmental factors such as diet or physical activity could remodel epigenetic information in metabolic tissues, suggesting epigenetic information to be at the interface between our genes and our environment. We have provided evidence that environmental factors could influence the predisposition to Diabetes of male offspring, suggesting epigenetic information can be also remodelled in reproductive cells.
The interest of my laboratory is to investigate the mechanisms by which environmental factors induce epigenetic modifications, thus predisposing or protecting from Diabetes. We aim to address these fascinating questions: "How much our free-will alters the way our genes are expressed and do we transmit our environmentally attributes to our offspring?".