The functional differences between cells across tissue types are determined by epigenetic factors that alter gene expression patterns without changing the underlying DNA sequence. The unique assembly and distribution of these epigenetic factors along the genome gives rise to specific gene expression programs that define the functional state of a cell. Clearly their faithful maintenance during mitotic cell divisions is crucial for the functional integrity of tissues over time. However, this process is not always perfect. Epigenetic factors can be stochastically gained or lost and ultimately lead to progressive functional heterogeneity among cells within a given tissue, causing the emergence of phenotypes typically observed during ageing.
Group Leader of the Laboratory of Quantitative Epigenetics
Quantitative epigenetics, theoretical biology, bioinformatics, computational biology, ageing
The core aim of our research is to understand the role of combinatorial epigenetic changes involved in the process of ageing. To achieve this, we provide both a computational and a theoretical framework to study and quantify these epigenetic changes on a genome-wide scale. From the computational point of view, we work on the development of algorithms for the analysis and integration of different types of genome-wide next generation sequencing epigenetic data. From the theoretical point of view, we develop formal models of epigenetic dynamical processes during cell development and division.