Over 400 attendees packed the auditorium for Sanford-Burnham’s 35th annual symposium to hear opinion-leading scientists discuss their latest findings on epigenetics. The field of epigenetics is transcending genetics, genomics, and molecular biology to become the vanguard of biological science. The symposium speakers revealed how our understanding of epigenetics will help unfold the complexities of genetic regulation, cellular differentiation, embryology, aging, cancer, and other diseases.
Until recently, scientists believed that disease results from genetic changes—the genes themselves and their structures become abnormal. Now, scientists realize that changes other than genetic changes—epigenetic changes—account for the destructive pathways and mechanisms of disease. Epigenetic changes alter DNA and chromosomes through chemical modifications that impact the “on” and “off” switches that control genes. The research undertaken by these outstanding scientists sheds light on epigenetic processes, and is essential for the development of epigenetic therapies aimed to restore normal cell functions.
Invited speakers came from Sanford-Burnham, Harvard, National Cancer Institute, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, UC San Diego, and more. They spoke about the role of RNA in epigenetics, DNA modifications that regulate gene expression, and epigenetics in development, cancer, and immunity.