McGill FAES researchers Sarah Kimmins (PI), Hope Weiler, Romain Lambrot, and Jeff Xia along with other Canadian and South African researchers have received $1.5 million from CIHR for a team grant to determine how environmental factors can alter the preconception health of men. Globally the prevalence of diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases are on the rise. These increases have occurred at rates that cannot be due to changes in the genetic structure of the population and are likely caused by environmental factors that modify gene function via epigenetics. The heritable epigenetic information includes methylation of DNA, post-translational modification of chromatin associated proteins, the histones, and regulatory RNA. The overarching goal of this research is to understand how environmental exposures alter the heritable epigenetic information during child development and in adult exposures, to impact health across generations.
With this grant the focus of their research is on determining how a father's exposures to diet and toxicants alter developmental outcomes and to test intervention strategies to lead to more healthy births and children.