Jonathan Mill

Professor Jonathan Mill

The Think-Tank seminar series

Epigenetic pathways to neuropsychiatric disease


Professor Jonathan Mill, University of Exeter Medical School & King's College London 

Date and time

15:45-16:45, 22 November, 2013


Current approaches to understanding the aetiology of mental illness has primarily focussed on uncovering a genetic contribution to disease-onset. Despite the discovery of a number of novel susceptibility genes for disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism using genome-wide association study approaches, these loci account for only a small proportion of attributable risk and the mechanism behind their action remains unknown. Sequencing the genome was only the first step in our quest to understand how genes are expressed and regulated. Sitting above the DNA sequence is a second layer of information (the ŒepigenomeŒ) that regulates several genomic functions, including when and where genes are expressed. There is growing recognition that epigenetic mechanisms are important in the etiology of complex disease, acting at the interface between the genome and the environment. Recent technological advances mean that it is now feasible to study epigenetic marks such as DNA methylation at base-pair resolution across the genome. In this talk I will present data from our group showing how dynamic epigenetic processes are involved in neuropsychiatric phenotypes, and can be influenced by environmental, genetic and stochastic factors. I will describe results from ongoing studies of disease-associated epigenetic changes using post-mortem brain material, discordant monozygotic twins and clinical samples.