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May 6, 2021 30 min

Epigenetics expert Dana C. Dolinoy of the University of Michigan School of Public Health illuminates how our nascent understanding of the epigenome is leading to breakthroughs in understanding the causes—and potential treatment—of some public health problems. Co-hosts Anne Chappelle and David Faulkner also talk with Dr. Dolinoy about the collaborative science happening in the field and what the future holds for epigenetics.


About the Guest

Dana C. Dolinoy, PhD, received her PhD in genetics and genomics and integrated toxicology and environmental health from Duke University in 2007 and conducted her postdoctoral fellowship in radiation oncology at the Duke University Medical School. She is currently the NSF International Chair of Environmental Health Sciences and Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, as well as Faculty Director of the Epigenomics Core at Michigan Medicine. Through these roles, Dr. Dolinoy provides a rigorous environment for training future scientists, instilling in them the need for critical experimentation and evaluation and interpretation of data.

Dr. Dolinoy has been involved in evaluating the effect of environmental exposures on the pathogenesis of diseases for over 15 years. An internationally recognized leader in the field of environmental epigenetics, Dr. Dolinoy leads innovative research evaluating how the health effects of environmental exposures can be mediated through changes in the epigenome. Within the past five years, Dr. Dolinoy has conducted numerous studies, both in her laboratory and in collaboration with others, to demonstrate how exposure to a variety of environmental chemicals—including bisphenols, phthalates, and metals—can cause specific alterations in the epigenome.

Dr. Dolinoy’s research also is pushing the boundaries of understanding the epigenome as well as tools to evaluate this critical system in gene regulation. Most recently, she was able to demonstrate the tissue-specific expression of piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNA) in most mouse somatic tissue in the first study to do so. These small RNAs were previously assumed to be expressed exclusively in germ line tissues, where they are known to be involved in transposon silencing by DNA methylation. Thus, this study not only suggests a possible role of the Piwi proteins/piRNA in regulating the epigenome in the soma, but also offers the promise of a tool for epigenome editing to improve human health.

Between 2015 and 2019, Dr. Dolinoy’s publications received a total of 4,386 citations, resulting in a five-year h-index of 35, easily placing her in the top 2% of scientists in her field. Recognition of her work also is evident from numerous national and international invitations to present her research, as well as service as an Associate Editor of Toxicological Sciences and Environmental Health Perspectives and on the editorial boards of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Epigenetics, and Environmental Epigenetics.

Dr. Dolinoy has been an active SOT member since 2005. 



The viewpoints and information presented in Adverse Reactions represent those of the participating individuals. Although the Society of Toxicology holds the copyright to the production, it does not vet or review the information presented, nor does presenting and distributing the Adverse Reactions podcast represent any proposal or endorsement of any position by the Society.

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