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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.

Lazy Versus Active Lifestyle Preferences May Have Epigenetic Roots

January 7, 2020 Andrea P

Some people are content with lying on the couch and watching TV, while others need to be active and exercise every day. Could it be due to the difference in genetics, environment, nurture vs. nature, or something else? In a recent study published in Nature Communications, researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine wanted to examine the relationship between nurture and exercise; specifically the mechanisms responsible for making some people enjoy exercising more than others. The study highlights how epigenetics suggests that [more…]

Alcohol Byproducts Can Epigenetically Trigger Cravings

December 26, 2019 Andrea P

As the holiday season brings about more parties, people are more likely to drink beyond healthy limits. In this social minefield of alcoholic beverages being served liberally, addicts may find themselves more inclined to fall back into their habit, already facing an average rate of relapse somewhere between 40 and 60%. We already know that alcohol can have several different effects on our epigenetics, all of which are negative. We’ve seen that binge drinking as a teenager can severely hinder [more…]

Epigenetic Pathway Found in Ants May Help Explain Human Social Life

December 17, 2019 Andrea P

Social and environmental cues continue to shape our identities well into adulthood, including how we interact with each other socially. But what specific molecular mechanisms are at play here, that allow for this extended plasticity, and—providing a more immediate challenge—how do we study them? In a study out of the University of Pennsylvania, a group of researchers led by esteemed epigeneticist Dr. Shelley Berger wanted to dive into determining the role that epigenetics plays in social behavior. “How behavior becomes [more…]

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…]

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