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March 4, 2014

RIKEN takes important step into epigenetics

Poster presentation at the epigenetics meeting

RIKEN's first meeting on epigenetics was held on February 17 in Yokohama. This event was a part of the Program for Epigenetic Regulation of Higher Biological Functions, a collaborative effort within RIKEN that was launched in 2013.

More than 120 participants gathered together at the meeting from the Yokohama, Wako, Tsukuba and Kobe campuses along with researchers from other institutes outside Japan.

Epigenetics, which has become a very active area of life science research, refers to heritable changes in gene expression that do not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence. Epigenetic change is the way in which cells differentiate to end up as different cells types such as skin cells, liver cells, and neurons. Epigenetics is known to play a key role in a variety of human disorders, but there are still many mysteries.

The RIKEN epigenetics program brings together scientists from different areas of expertise to study the molecular mechanisms of epigenetics, elucidate the epigenetic response to the environment, examine the structural basis of the epigenome and develop novel chemicals and probes.

In addition to annual meetings, the RIKEN epigenetics program also has a seminar series where researchers from inside and outside Japan talk about their research relating to epigenetics.

The Laboratory for Developmental Genetics from IMS in Yokohama was the main host of the event, which aimed at building and fostering a fertile environment for epigenetics research in RIKEN.