Congratulations to Dr. Scott Rothbart, postdoctoral fellow in the Strahl lab, who has accepted a faculty position at the Center for Epigenetics at the Van Andel Research Institute beginning in April 2015.
Dr. Rothbart’s research interests have broadly been focused on understanding cellular mechanisms associated with the pharmacology and biochemistry of cancer. He performed his postdoctoral studies in the lab of Dr. Brian Strahl at UNC Chapel Hill examining the influence of histone post-translational modifications on chromatin structure and function. His work, funded by fellowships through the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health (K99), defined how histone modifications operate in a combinatorial manner or ‘code’ to selectively recruit reader proteins that dock with chromatin to direct specific biological processes and has revealed a dynamic interplay between histone modifications and DNA methylation as key epigenetic regulators of DNA information in chromatin.
As an Assistant Professor in the Center for Epigenetics at the Van Andel Research Institute, Dr. Rothbart’s Laboratory of Chromatin and Epigenetic Regulation will leverage in vitro and cellular biochemistry, computational and molecular biophysics, pharmacology, genomics, and proteomics to uncover basic molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling chromatin accessibility, interaction, and function. A specific focus of the lab will be to further our understanding of how histone modifications and DNA methylation work together as a language or ‘code’ that is read and interpreted by specialized proteins to orchestrate the dynamic functions associated with chromatin. Importantly, it is becoming increasingly apparent that deregulation of the epigenetic program contributes to the initiation and progression of multiple human diseases, including cancer. Unlike genetic abnormalities, epigenetic alterations are reversible, making them potential targets for therapeutic intervention. Given this, a long-term goal is to translate the basic research performed in the lab toward novel chromatin and epigenetic target identification and drug discovery.