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.

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


Latest News

  • 2021 Conscientious Investigator Awards Friday, January 14, 2022

    The Heller lab is receiving this award for consistently working to improve animal welfare and decrease stress on their mice. This includes devising innovative social housing strategies for instrumented mice to enhance their well-being and protect the instrumentation, as well as enhancing environmental enrichment for breeding animals. The group has exemplified the meaning of "good welfare is good science”.

  • Chloe Han CURF Fellowship Monday, November 29, 2021

    Congratulations to undergraduate student Chloe Han for winning a CURF Fellowship for her research project: Regulation of Nr4a1 in cocaine reward! Chloe was awarded "The Endowed Dean’s Research Award" by the College Alumni Society. 

  • Elizabeth Heller - World Wide Neuroscience Presentations Thursday, November 11, 2021

    Dr. Heller presents on "Nr4a1 and chromatin bivalency in cocaine pathophysiology" as part of WWN Neurobiology of Addiction series.

    View talk here.

    Dr. Heller presents on "Epigenetic regulation of alternative splicing in the context of cocaine reward" as part of WWN Neuroepigenetics series.

    View talk here.

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