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About Andrea P
Andrea received her B.S. in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Neuroscience from Duke University. She first fell in love with biology when she learned about the magnificent powers of protein folding, and then naturally wanted to know who was in charge. She’s fascinated by the finer controls of epigenetic modifications. In her downtime, she enjoys hiking with her dog and going for long drives to explore new places.

Epigenetic Marks in Blood May Help Detect Early Alzheimer’s

December 10, 2019 Andrea P

Late onset Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of the disease, which affects over 35 million people around the world with crippling dementia. Recent evidence suggests that early intervention can help slow down the memory loss—one of Alzheimer’s hallmark symptoms. Earlier intervention can occur with earlier detection, and so researchers have been focusing on finding minimally invasive ways to diagnose the disease before the severe dementia fully kicks in. A recent study to this effect was published in Clinical [more…]

Teen Drinking Is Very Bad…For Brain Development

December 3, 2019 Andrea P

Adolescent alcohol exposure is a well-known, major public health problem affecting a large number of youths during a particularly critical moment of cognitive and psychological development. Characterizing its effects and potentially reversing any damage caused is therefore of significant clinical interest. “Adolescent binge drinking is dangerous and has long-term epigenetic effects on the brain,” notes Dr. Subhash Pandey, director of the UIC Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics and senior scientist at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. “Understanding this mechanism [more…]

Epigenetic Switches May Leave DNA Vulnerable

November 26, 2019 Andrea P

The field of epigenetic research has been making huge strides in identifying the mechanisms involved in controlling how genes are expressed. A lot of effort is put into studying the importance of the genetic code documented in cells, but also of the structure of the chromatin supporting it. As the protein-based infrastructure surrounding DNA, chromatin controls how exposed the DNA is. No matter how critical the genetic sequence may be, it won’t be properly transcribed into RNA and then into functional proteins [more…]

Epigenetic Marks Found In Blood Test Could Help Save Diabetics

November 19, 2019 Andrea P

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic illness in which a person’s body cannot produce enough insulin to process blood sugar in a healthy way. It affects millions of people all over the world, and it can be a debilitating and even deadly disease if not properly managed. The inability to metabolize glucose can lead to long-term damage to blood vessels in organs and tissues— and may eventually lead to death. Quantifying this damage lets people take action, changing their habits and [more…]

“Junk DNA” Might Actually Help to Breed Drought-Resistant Crops

November 12, 2019 Andrea P

From instruments through algorithms, new technology is empowering the scientific community to not only discover novel concepts but also to reshape existing ones. A new study from the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge (SLCU) as well as the Department of Plant Sciences has redefined the function and potential of transposable elements (TEs)—also known as transposons—in ways that could have a major impact on everything from economics and alleviating our global food shortage, through health and medicine. Transposable elements [more…]

A Mother’s Behavior Could Epigenetically Impact Infant Oxytocin Levels

November 5, 2019 Andrea P

“Nature vs. nurture” is an argument as old as time, and understanding how “nature” is expressed and how “nurture” carries lasting effects in individuals is important in determining health outcomes later in life, especially when it comes to the bond shared between a mother and her child. As we know, when a mother breastfeeds her child, she provides the baby with antibodies and nutrients to help ensure a healthy immune system, as well as other positive health benefits. A mother [more…]

Epigenetic Mechanism May Promote Healthy Aging

October 29, 2019 Andrea P

Aging is one of life’s inevitable processes, and has been a hot topic for scientific research over the last few years. As we know, aging has many epigenetic factors, and can be affected by a number of different things like depression, bipolar disorder, and menopause. Generally, aging results in negative health effects due to the decreasing ability for the body to repair damage done to tissues and DNA over time. But Dr. Baris Tursun from the Max Delbrück Center for [more…]

New Method to Understand Two levels of Epigenetic Changes in Tissues

October 22, 2019 Andrea P

More and more people are learning about how an individual’s genetic sequence determines their body’s development and how that also affects their health over a lifetime.  But genes alone are not the only factor contributing to the way an individual’s features emerge and perform. Things like how DNA is exposed—or not exposed—to the cellular machinery that carries it from code to reality are also vital to consider. The field of epigenetics is still rather young, and much effort is needed [more…]

Epigenetic Mechanism Can Repair Plants Damaged By Stress

October 8, 2019 Andrea P

Plants are an integral part of our ecosystem, major contributors to everything from purifying air quality all the way through providing a critical source of food within the food chain. They are constantly subjected to every environmental stressor imaginable, from natural disasters through manmade pollution. Understanding their relative vulnerability and their potential stress tolerance sheds light on how secure they are within our ecosystems, as well as what we can potentially try to do to protect them.  Protecting plant genetic material is [more…]

Binge Drinking May Be More Epigenetically Harmful To Women

October 1, 2019 Andrea P

One of the great pastimes of the human species is getting together to have a couple of beers after work, going out for cocktails on the weekend, or ending your evening with a nightcap before bed. Alcohol is a part of many cultural norms, and is fine in moderation, but could promote health problems down the line if consumed in excess too often, or too early. American adults of both sexes are no strangers to binge drinking; one out of [more…]

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