Jonathan A. Epstein, M.D.

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William Wikoff Smith Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) and Cell and Developmental Biology
Executive Vice Dean and Chief Scientific Officer, Perelman School of Medicine
Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer , University of Pennsylvania Health System
Department: Medicine
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
602 PCAM South Expansion
3400 Civic Center Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: (215) 898-8731
Fax: (215) 573-2030
A.B. (Biochemistry)
Harvard College, 1983.
M.D. (Medicine)
Harvard Medical School, 1988.
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Description of Research Expertise

Research Interests
Epigenetic regulation of stem cell biology, developmental biology, and cardiovascular medicine.

Key words: Nuclear architecture, Cardiac development, Neural crest, Transcription, Epigenetics, Stem cells, CAR T, Fibrosis, Hopx

Research Description
In the Epstein laboratory, we are interested in molecular mechanisms of cardiovascular development and stem cell biology, and the implications for human disease. The lab has a longstanding history in pursuing the genetic causes of congenital heart disease and mechanisms of cell fate determination.
Our research combines biochemistry, cell biology, and genomics to determine how the three-dimensional organization of chromatin in the nucleus (“nuclear architecture”) contributes to cell identity and how cell differentiation is regulated by protein complexes that tether regions of the genome to the nuclear periphery. Most recently, we have focused on epigenetics, including the role of histone deacetylases in cardiac development and adult heart function. The lab has pioneered the concept that entire gene programs, such as those defining cardiac cell types, can be regulated through interactions between the nuclear lamina and chromatin. Current studies are underway to determine the factors regulating 3D chromatin organization as the cell advances through the cell cycle and as it undergoes differentiation.
The Epstein lab discovered the tumor suppressor and stem cell gene Hopx and continues to study its role in the heart and in numerous tissue-specific adult resident stem cells including those in the central nervous system, the intestine and the skin.
Finally, the lab is using novel methods of engineering immune cells to develop proof-of-principle approaches for treating common cardiovascular disorders.

Potential Projects Opportunities are available to investigate the regulation and functional organization of the genome and the impact on cell identity.
Specific research topics include:
• determine the molecular mechanisms that alter nuclear architecture in response to growth and differentiation signaling
• alter the localization of individual chromatin domains within the nucleus and determine how this impacts the biology of the cell
• define mechanisms that underlie establishment and maintenance of peripheral heterochromatin including how the cell “remembers” 3D chromatin organization during mitosis
• apply statistical and computational methods to determine how the histone code dictates nuclear architecture
Projects are tailored to students' experience and interests.

Lab Members: Haig Aghajanian; Kurt Allen Engleka; Diana Fulmer; Anna Kiseleva; Jun Li; Feiyan Liu; Andrey Poleshko; Joel Rurik; Cheryl Smith; Karen Wong

Selected Publications

CAR T cells produced in vivo to treat cardiac injury.: Rurik, J.G., Tombácz, I., Yadegari, A., Méndez Fernández, P.O., Shewale, S.V., Kimura, T., Younoss, Soliman, O., Papp, T.E., Tam, Y.K., Mui, B.L., Albelda, S.M., Pure, E., June, C.H., Aghajanian, H., Weissman, D. Parhiz, H., Epstein, J.A. Science 7(375), Jan 2022.

Bourque, J., Opejin, A., Surnov, A., Iberg, C.A., Gross, C., Jain, R., Epstein, J.A., Hawiger, D., Heliyon. : Landscape of Hopx expression in cells of the immune system. Heliyon 7(11), Nov 2021.

Jain, R., Epstein JA.: Not all stress is bad for your heart. Science 375(6565), Oct 2021.

Smith, C.L., Lan, Y., Jain, R., Epstein, J.A., Poleshko, A.: Global chromatin relabeling accompanies spatial inversion of chromatin in rod photoreceptors. Sci Adv. 7(39), Sep 2021.

Oakes, A.H., Epstein, J.A., Ganguly, A., Park, S., Evans, C.N., Patel, M.S. : Effect of Opt-In vs Opt-Out Framing on Enrollment in a COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Program: The COVID SAFE Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Network Open. 4(6), June 2021.

Oakes, A.H., Epstein, J.A., Ganguly, A., Bushman, F.D., Haubein, N.C., Sevinc, C., Fendrich, S., Oon, A.L., Parambath, A., Clark, K., Evans, C.N., Patel, M.S. : Covid SAFE: Rapid Implementation of a Saliva-Based SARS-CoV-2 Surveillance Testing Program with Automated Scheduling and Reporting. NEJM Catalyst. 2(3), March 2021.

Kiseleva, A.A., Troisi, E.M., Hensley, S.E., Kohli, R.M., Epstein, J.A. : SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binding selectively accelerates substrate-specific catalytic activity of ACE2. The Journal of Biochemistry March 2021.

Smith, C.L., Poleshko, A., Epstein, J.A.: The nuclear periphery is a scaffold for tissue-specific enhancers. Nucleic Acids Res. 49, 2021.

See, K., Kiseleva, A.A., Smith, C.L., Liu, F., Li, J., Poleshko, A., Epstein, J.A. : Histone methyltransferase activity programs nuclear peripheral genome positioning. Dev Biol 466(1-2): 90-98, Oct 2020.

Jang, J., Engleka,K.A., Liu, F. Li, L., Song, G., Epstein, J.A., Li, D. : An engineered mouse to identify proliferating cells and their derivatives. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, section Cell Growth and Division. 25(8): 388, 2020.

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Last updated: 05/11/2022
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