Graduate Students
Dina Johar, PhD Student | Ifeoluwa Elizabeth Adewumi, MSc Student | Jessica Jarmasz, PhD Student | Nicholas Stesco, MSc Student 
Ryan Lillico, PhD Student | Sanzida Jahan, PhD Research Student | Veronica Lau, MSc Student | Vichithra RB Liyanage, PhD Student 

Dina Johar, PhD

My epigenetic research project focuses on new approach to differentiate primary from latent toxoplasma gondii abortion through immunoglobulin and DNA interpretation.




Ifeoluwa Elizabeth Adewumi, MSc Student

My epigenetics research interest focuses on using triple-negative breast cancer cell lines to create the TNFα gene signature and to determine the role MSK-mediated nucleosomal response plays in TNFα induced transcriptional program.




Jessica Jarmasz, PhD Student

The epigenetic research I am involved in is the study of DNA cytosine modifications as well as Histone Posttranslational Modifications (PTMs) in the developing human brain exposed to prenatal alcohol exposure (PNAE). I will be comparing my human autopsy findings to a monkey FASD model developed in the 1980s by Dr. Sterling Clarren and collegues. We hope our findings will help explain the pathogenesis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) through gene expression changes caused by the PNAE. We also hope to identify possible biomarkers (specific epigenetic modifications) in order to diagnosis those affected with FASD earlier, so that interventions and treatments can begin as soon as possible.

My future interests include further epigenetic studies in the developing human brain or in the aging human brain as well as concussion research.

Nicholas Stesco, MSc Student

My research interests lie in studying the activity of protein lysine methyltransferases in vitro using LC-MS/MS for detection of the products of the methyltransferase reaction, methylated lysines and S-adenosyl methionine. This project aims to increase our understanding of the kinetics and mechanisms of these enzymes. Lysine methyltransferases are implicated in numerous disease states, including many types of cancer. The more we know about how they work, the better we can predict the effect of these enzymes in vivo. This is especially important in the context of using lysine methyltransferases as potential drug targets.



Ryan Lillico, PhD Student

I am currently working on the molecular pathology of mixed lineage leukemia and how histone lysine methyltransferase and demethylase inhibitors can be used as treatment. We are investigating the genome wide effects of these inhibitors with respect to histone modifications using an LC-MS/MS assay developed in our lab. We also follow changes in gene expression of other epigenetic enzymes upon treatment with certain inhibitors, finding that genome wide inhibition of one epigenetic enzyme can lead to changing the expression of other epigenetic enzymes, resulting in cascading, off-target changes in gene expression. We aim to develop bio-conjugates of epigenetic enzyme inhibitors as a means of gene-specific drug targeting in order to overcome these off-target effects.




Sanzida Jahan, PhD Research Student

I am working with chicken erythrocyte cell system. My research focus is characterizing chromatin structure using this cell source. My interest is to characterize what are the factors that maintain active chromatin features. I am using high throughput sequencing such as, DNA-seq, RNA-seq and ChIP-seq along with high resolution ChIP assay in my study.




Veronica Lau, MSc Student

I want to do research in the Epigenetics field because I believe that it can provide more information about a disease compared to just looking at the changes in the actual DNA sequence. It is really interesting since it shows how complicated the human body is.




Vichithra RB Liyanage, PhD Student

My research interests are mainly of the role of epigenetic mechanisms on gene expression regulation in neurodevelopmental disorders. Among the different epigenetic mechanisms, my main focus is on the role of DNA methylation in gene expression regulation. My research work is also linked to study MeCP2, which is a major epigenetic regulator.