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

  • 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

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  • Mia Dittrich Awards Wednesday, March 24, 2021

    Lab Member and Byram Hills High School Senior, Mia Dittrich, won the George D. Yancopoulos Young Scientist Award, placed first in Neuroscience in The Regeneron Westchester Science and Engineering Fair (WESEF)  and is one of 20 students progressing to the virtual Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF)!

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  • Marco Carpenter: Dissertation Defense Monday, March 22, 2021

    Marco Carpenter successfully defended his dissertation, entitled Targeting Endogenous Homeostatic Mechanisms for the Treatment of Cocaine Use Disorders: Contribution of Nr4a1 and Target Gene Expression. Congratulations Marco!

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