Emerging Science of Epigenetics

The Emerging Science of Epigenetics: How Environmental Exposures Today May Affect Our Future Generations

Alaska Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE-AK)

Recorded with Dr. Skinner on Wednesday, December 4th, 2013.

About the call:

The Emerging Science of Epigenetics: How Environmental Exposures Today May Affect Our Future Generations

Listen to the recording of this call with Washington State University researcher Dr. Michael Skinner for a discussion of new findings in epigenetics, the field of study which looks at how environmental factors can affect the way genes are expressed – and how those traits can be passed down from one generation to the next. For example a new study from WSU’s Center for Reproductive Biology suggests a link between exposure to the insecticide DDT (a chemical banned for more than 30 years) and obesity. Researchers exposed pregnant rats to low levels of DDT and studied how the chemical affected successive generations of their offspring. They found that the third generation of offspring – in other words, the great-grandchildren of the exposed rats – had much higher rates of obesity than their ancestors. Other industrial chemicals are now known to have multi-generational effects. What preventative measures can we take and how can we address this collectively through policy changes?

This call is presented by ACAT’s Alaska Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE-Alaska). Learn more about the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE).


Dr. Michael Skinner, WSUDr. Michael Skinner, Washington State University

Dr. Michael Skinner is a professor in the School of Biological Sciences at Washington State University.  He did his B.S. in chemistry at Reed College in Portland Oregon, his Ph.D, in biochemistry at Washington State University and his Postdoctoral Fellowship at the C.H. Best Institute at the University of Toronto.  He has been on the faculty of Vanderbilt University and the University of California at San Francisco.  Dr. Skinner’s research is focused on the investigation of how different cell types in a tissue interact and communicate to regulate gonadal growth and differentiation, with emphasis in the area of reproductive biology. Recent studies have elucidated several critical events in the initiation of male sex differentiation, testis development and ovarian primordial follicle development. His current research has demonstrated the ability of endocrine disruptors to promote transgenerational epigenetic disease phenotypes due to abnormal germ line programming in gonadal development.  Dr. Skinner has over 200 peer reviewed publications and has given over 180  invited symposia, plenary lectures and university seminars.  Link to Skinner Laboratory | Curriculum Vitae pdf | Call Recording


Skinner Laboratory Research Summary

Skinner Laboratory Publications

Smithsonian Magazine Article, December 2013: The Toxins That Affected Your Great-Grandparents Could Be In Your Genes – Biologist Michael Skinner has enraged the chemical community and shocked his peers with his breakthrough research

Northwest Public Radio Interview October 24, 2013, Researchers Link DDT Exposure To Obesity Generations Later

Latest research article:

Michael K Skinner, Mohan Manikkam, Rebecca Tracey, Carlos Guerrero-Bosagna, Muksitul Haque and Eric E Nilsson: Ancestral dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) exposure promotes epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of obesityBMC Medicine 2013, 11:228  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-228. Available: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/11/228

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