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In this podcast, Dr. Moshe Szyf, perhaps one of the greatest minds in the interesting field of epigenetics, discusses the complex and important field of social epigenetics.

Dr. Szyf has a PhD from the Hebrew University. He completed an intensive postdoctoral fellowship in Genetics at Harvard Medical School, then continued his studies and research through his James McGill Professorship and GlaxoSmithKline-CIHR Chair in Pharmacology.

In the field of epigenetics, Dr. Szyf has amassed 40 years of scientific research focused primarily on understanding how select genes can be programmed. Dr. Szyf’s lab has pioneered many methods and techniques and was an early voice in the proposal that DNA methylation is a therapeutic target specific to cancer and other diseases. Their groundbreaking work helped to launch the field of social epigenetics.

Dr. Szyf recounts some observations of rats that were essential to his lab’s work. He relates how rats that clearly lick their pups more often are actually changing their pups’ lives. As these pups that have experienced high maternal care become adult rats they will then have a variation in stress responsivity and characteristics. Dr. Szyf’s lab is extremely interested
in these behaviors and how they alter the programming of genes.

Dr. Szyf discusses proteins, DNA, and the many factors that can alter genes and gene programming overall. Dr. Szyf discusses how epigenetics can provide a better understanding of aging as well as disease development. He talks about changes in cancer cells and the many alterations in a wide range of genes. Dr. Szyf explains the epigenetic approaches to prevent or intervene in cancer that may possibly allow for an alternative approach in lieu of the standard methods, many of which are quite toxic.

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