vcu banner


Epigenetics of psychiatric disorders and its potential to improve treatment


The 2014 Biennial Lowenthal Symposium took place on May 28th at the VCU Larrick Center. This year's topic was focused on epigenetics. 

Epigenetic modifications involve changes to the DNA that regulate gene expression. These modifications can be the result of environmental factors and drug treatment. Epigenetic studies therefore have great promise to shed a unique light on disease mechanisms and provide new drug targets. As epigenetic markers are stable and can be measured cost-effectively in peripheral tissues, they also form a new promising class of biomarkers suitable for use in clinical settings.

Six epigenetic scientists presented their latest research. Their presentations and a discussion session concluding the symposium can be viewed below.


Epigenetic Mechanisms Embedding Social Experience in the Genome 

Moshe Szyf, Ph.D., James McGill Professor of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


Novel Cytosine Modifications in Brain Function and Psychiatric Disease

Viviane Labrie, Ph.D., Project Scientist, The Krembil Family Epigenetics Laboratory, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Potential Roles of HDAC Inhibitors in Mitigating CNS Pathological Conditions

De-Maw Chuang, Ph.D., Chief, Molecular Neurobiology Section, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health.


Epigenetics of Stress and Depression

James "Jimmy" Potash, M.D., M.P.H., Paul W. Penningroth Professor, Chair and Departmental Executive Officer of Psychiatry, University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa.


Active DNA Demethylation in Post-Mitotic Neurons: A Reason for Optimism

David Gavin, M.D., M.S., Staff Psychiatrist/Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and University of Illinois at Chicago.


Methylome-Wide Association Studies of Psychiatric Disorders

Karolina Aberg, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Associate Director, Center for Biomarker Research and Personalized Medicine, School of Pharmacy, Virginia Commonwealth University.

Closing Remarks