Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics
Director, Regenerative Medicine Program
Director, Mammalian Functional Genomics Centre
Senior Investigator, Research Institute in Oncology and Hematology
The Genetics and Epigenetics of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is continuum of disorders with neurodevelopmental, cognitive and social impairments that result from prenatal exposure to alcohol. While acute alcohol exposure, as a teratogen, is undoubtedly the major driver of these related disorders, it’s also clear that an individual’s genetics plays an important role in the severity and clinical manifestation of FASD that may follow. My labs interest is in discovering the genetic variation between individuals that might biologically protect or sensitize an individual to developing FASD. We expect these differences to small – single DNA base pair changes or environmentally regulated epigenetic changes that don’t change the DNA itself, but the way it can be expressed. We are hopeful that by identifying the underlying genetic and epigenetic components of FASD that we will begin to better understand the molecular basis of FASD, and perhaps more importantly, to develop a clinical diagnostic tool that can be used to determine the individual risk of developing FASD. The latter would allow early diagnosis and intervention – both of which we know can profoundly change the outcome of children with FASD.