Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Heller Lab
Laboratory of Neuroepigenetics


To carry out our investigations we analyze the epigenome of brain reward regions of rodents exposed to chronic drug and stress paradigms, including drug self-administration, which most closely models the human experience.  Conversely, we utilize viral-delivery of highly novel molecular tools to manipulate the molecular motifs at a specific gene to determine their causal role in drug- and stress-responsive behaviors.  Using this approach we aim to make great strides towards elucidating the precise functional relevance of epigenetic remodeling in neuropsychiatric disease.

Our current projects are focused on the following areas, within the context of the drug self-administration and chronic stress paradigms.

1. The role of chromatin-regulated alternative splicing in brain function

2. Sex-specific epigenetic regulation of Cdk5 in stress and learning


3. Novel approaches to deliver multiple-chromatin modifications to a single gene