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GS04 1243 Epigenetics: From Mechanism to Disease

  • Course Director(s): Bedford, Mark; Chen, Taiping; Shi, Xiaobing
  • Semester: Spring
  • Frequency: Annually
  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Grading System: Letter Grade
  • Prerequisites:


Mark Bedford, Taiping Chen, Xiaobing Shi. Three semester hours. Spring, annually. Grading System: Letter Grade. Prerequisites: Undergraduate biochemistry and genetics (one semester, but one year strongly recommended) or graduate-level biochemistry and genetics courses (one semester). 

Epigenetics is defined as the study of heritable changes in gene expression or phenotype that does not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence. In our body, each cell has the same set of genes, yet different cell types look very different from each other (for example - fat cells vs neurons vs T cells) and they each perform very distinct functions. These differences are achieved by epigenetic control of gene expression. In disease states like cancer, the epigenetic control of gene expression can go awry. This course will cover the principles of epigenetic control of gene expression and chromatin dynamics, how epigenetic regulation contributes to stem cell identity, cellular differentiation and development, and how it goes wrong in diseases including cancer. In addition, the course material will cover the common techniques used for epigenetic studies. This course is organized into 2 lectures a week. The teaching philosophy emphasizes understanding of central concepts and development of critical thinking through lecturing and class discussion. An important aspect of this course is distance learning: half the lectures will be given in Houston classrooms and video conferenced to Science Park, and the other half of the lectures will be given in Science Park and video conferenced to Houston.