locus-specific epigenetic remodelingThe Heller Lab studies the epigenetic mechanisms that underlie aberrant neuronal function and behavior in neuropsychiatric disease. To approach this problem, we apply preclinical mouse paradigms of drug addiction and depression to determine functionally relevant histone modifications. Because the syndromes of addiction and depression persist long after cessation of the harmful experience, stable epigenetic remodeling is an attractive mechanism for such long-lasting effects and presents an intriguing target for therapeutic intervention. We use high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatic approaches, including machine learning, to identify genes at which drug- or stress-regulation of the epigenome correlates with changes in gene expression. Using novel epigenetic editing tools, we then target individual modifications and examine their causal relevance to transcription and behavior.  This ‘bottom-up’ approach allows direct elucidation of the causal relevance of epigenetic remodeling in the brain.

Meet Our Team

Meet Our Collaborators:


Penn Epigenetics Institute       Brain and Behavior Research Foundation Logo         The Pittsburgh Foundation Logo          NIH Logo         Whitehall Foundation Logo


Latest News

  • New Hires Thursday, July 1, 2021

    The Heller Lab is excited to welcome two new members: Julia Winter (Postdoctoral Fellow) and Keegan Krick (CAMB Genetics and Epigenetics Graduate Student).

    View team profiles here.

  • R01 Grant from NIDA Wednesday, June 30, 2021

    Liz Heller has been awarded her first R01 from NIDA! This 5-year grant entitled, Epigenetic mechanisms of sustained transcription across cocaine abstinence, will examine an outstanding question in addiction biology on the mechanism by which neurological changes persist long past the cessation of drug taking.

  • Nicole Harrington: Paper Published Tuesday, April 6, 2021

    Undergraduate student Nicole Harrington published a paper, titled "The role of trust in HPV vaccine uptake among racial and ethnic minorities in the United States: A narrative review." in AIMS Public Health

    View Paper Here

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