The study of genetics looks at which genes a person inherits from their parents, grandparents, and other progenitors. Epigenetics, on the other hand, looks at how the environment, age, and lifestyle can cause changes in how these genes are expressed. It explores how genes and genomes control cell growth, function, and survival, and how such processes, when perturbed, can cause disease. Historically, most research in disease epigenetics has focused on cancer biology and immunological disorders. The Center for Neural Epigenome Engineering at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai emphasizes the various roles that epigenetics plays in the development and treatment of neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, neurodegenerative disease (e.g., Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia), and psychiatric disorders (e.g., substance use disorders and major depressive disorder). We are the first center devoted exclusively to neuroepigenomics engineering in the United States.
Our goal for the center is to position the Icahn Mount Sinai at the forefront of neuroepigenetics research. We are fortunate to be able to build on the pioneering efforts of numerous Mount Sinai researchers in developing molecular approaches to studies of psychiatry and neurology, as well as upon Mount Sinai’s efforts in the computational aspects of epigenetics and structural and chemical biology. The center will enable us to further solidify our work and incorporate more research into the basic mechanisms of neuroepigenetic phenomena.
At the center, we strive to understand the basic mechanisms of neuroepigenetics and their roles in the development of pathology, using the most advanced approaches available. We explore fundamental aspects of chemistry and chemical biology, as well as structural biology and proteomics, to understand epigenetic mechanisms in the nervous system. In addition, we apply protein engineering approaches to develop targeted therapeutics that will ameliorate these pathological processes and enable us to treat neural-specific diseases.
Ian S. Maze, PhD
Professor of Neuroscience and Pharmacological Sciences