The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center at Houston
Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis
The major focus of the Ting lab is epigenetic gene regulation. We are particularly passionate about DNA methylation, which is important for both normal development and disease states. In cancers, aberrant promoter CpG island hypermethylation leads to gene inactivation and can account for lack of gene expression where mutations do not exist. This phenomenon occurs at classical tumor suppressor genes and directly contributes to cancer development. While promoter hypermethylation is functionally important, it only accounts for a small fraction (~10%) of the global disruption we observe across cancer types. To fully appreciate the impact of abnormal DNA methylation on cancer, we are actively working on understanding the functions of DNA methylation in other genomic contexts. We are also curious about how abnormal DNA methylation arises during cancer development, as knowledge in this area can inform cancer prevention strategies.
We employ molecular, biochemical, and computational methods to address the questions we ask about DNA methylation. When needed, we are also not afraid to develop new tools where none existed to overcome technical challenges. Examples of projects a prospective students may take on include analysis of single cell RNA-seq and ATAC-seq datasets to address resistance mechanisms in bladder cancer, investigating how DNA modification enzymes from the microbiome can impact human cell DNA methylation, and studying the impact of environmental stress can be converted to cellular signals that trigger DNA methylation remodeling.
Education & Training
PhD - John Hopkins University School of Medicine - 2005