Peter Adams Lab

Epigenetics of Cancer and Aging

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Peter Adams

Peter Adams has been Full Professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute since 2016. Adams' goal is to contribute to development of epigenetic-based interventions that promote healthy aging and suppression of disease, including cancer. Adams has made a number of significant discoveries in the area of epigenetics of aging and cancer. His lab coined the term "chromostasis" to describe the presumptive mechanisms that confer chromatin and phenotypic stability to achieve healthy aging; discovered "cytoplasmic chromatin fragments (CCF)" produced by senescent cells as pro-inflammatory signals; published the first DNA methylation clock in the mouse, from his studies of aging mouse liver. In 2016 Adams was awarded the Tenovus Scotland Medal, in 2017 a Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging, and in 2018 a Glenn/AFAR Breakthroughs in Gerontology Award, in recognition of his research achievements. Adams is co-Editor-in-Chief of the leading aging journal, Aging Cell.

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Aaron Havas

Aaron completed his PhD from the University of Arizona Cancer Biology program. His previous studies assessed mechanism of response and resistance to histone deacetylase inhibitors in lymphoma. Aaron joined the Adams lab in February 2017 where he has been focusing his research on identifying the cause and consequences of enhancer DNA methylation changes with age in mouse hepatocytes.

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Karl Miller

Karl did his graduate work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied mechanisms of delayed aging by caloric restriction. His work in the Adams Lab investigates causes of senescence-associated inflammation at the cellular and molecular level. Currently, he is focusing the role of histone deacetylases in a mitochondria-nucleus signaling pathway that drives this inflammatory phenotype. Studying this pathway can unravel new mechanisms in biology and find new therapeutic targets in the treatment of age-associated diseases

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Nirmalya Dasgupta

Nirmalya obtained his BSc (Hons) in Chemistry and MSc in Biochemistry from the University of Calcutta, India, before joining the R&D division of a renowned pharmaceutical company in India as a Biological Chemist. He spent more than four years in the pharmaceutical industry before returning to academia and obtaining his PhD from the department of Biochemistry at the University of Calcutta, where he studied the transcriptional regulation of differentiation-induced genes in intestinal epithelial cells. In 2017, Nirmalya joined the Adams laboratory as a post-doc, where he is studying the epigenetics of senescence, the hallmark of the aging cell. His work aims to uncover how inflammation is generated during aging, with the ultimate goal of discovering novel therapeutic interventions which reduce inflammation in aging tissues. In his free time, Nirmalya is passionate about swimming and Himalayan hiking to altitudes of 12-19,000 feet, and is interested in Buddhism, history and politics.

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Tianhui Liu

Tianhui description upcoming.

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Corey Bretz

I have been trained as a molecular biologist and mouse geneticist through my PhD and postdoctoral training. I am particularly interested in how epigenetic alterations mediate cellular responses to stresses, and how we can exploit epigenetic mechanisms as an avenue for therapeutic interventions. I use in vivo and in vitro mammalian models to investigate epigenetic mechanisms of DNA methylation and chromatin regulation and how they impact cell stress responses to disease. During my graduate studies, I investigated the epigenetic response of imprinted domains in a mouse model of carcinogenesis, and reported that epigenetic instability (i.e., focal hypermethylation) at imprinting control regions coincides with malignant transformation (PMID: 26507119; PMID: 28855972; PMID: 26338779). Furthermore, I generated several mouse models to investigate the mechanisms that establish the DNA methylation imprint at the Peg3 imprinting control region and to investigate the biological impetus for genomic imprinting within the Peg3 imprinted domain (PMID: 28925797; PMID: 29734399; PMID: 29569934). As a postdoctoral associate, I am leading in-depth investigations into how aging contributes to the increase risk of pathologies and diseases of aging, such as chronic inflammation and cancer. Ultimately, I strive to make high impact discoveries that are translatable to the clinic.

For a complete list of my publications please visit PubMed at:

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Sha Li

Sha obtained her PhD in Biochemistry from Colorado State University. She joined the Adams lab in 2018 and had been working on Acute Myeloid Leukemia. She is using synergistic combination therapy to treat the cancer and seeking to understand the mechanism of synergism.

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Hiroshi Tanaka

Hiroshi joined the lab in late 2018 after he earned his Ph.D. at Kumamoto University in Japan. He has investigated epigenetic changes in cellular senescence, especially for histone modification changes. He is now working on a "chromostasis" project to understand the regulatory mechanisms of chromatin dynamics in aging and cancer.

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Xue Lei

Xue completed her Ph.D. in computational biology at SJTU, modeling genetic switch stochasticity in the Ao Lab; M.S in bioinformatics at UIC, developing a structure-based model to identify cancer driver mutations in the Liang Lab and analyzing NGS data on B cell development in the Kenter Lab. She joined the Adams Lab in 2019, working as a computational biologist.

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Zong Ming Chua

Zong Ming completed his undergraduate education at the University of California San Diego with a B.S in Biochemistry & Cell Biology and a B.A in Music. In addition, he has conducted research into neurotransmitter switching in X. Laevis working in the lab of Professor Nicholas Spitzer as well as the binding profiles of RNA binding protein as part of the ENCODE project in the lab of Professor Gene Yeo at UC San Diego. As a graduate student in the Adams lab, Zong Ming aims to investigate links between the epigenome and aging phenotypes.

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Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis completed his B.S. at UCSD. His previous work was in autophagy in C. elegans in the Hansen Lab. He joined the Adams Lab in 2017, where he is the lab manager and works on a number of aging and epigenetics projects for the lab.

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