Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

 Southern Highlands Branch Meeting 2022-2

Dr Alyson Ashe“Transgenerational Epigenetics ”

Dr Alyson Ashe
Senior Lecturer, School of Life and Environmental Science
University of Sydney

Date: Thursday, 17 March 2022 6.30 pm AEDT 
Venue: RSL Mittagong, Carrington Room

Summary: Epigenetics – one of the mechanisms by which cells control the expression of genes – has long been known to be heritable across cell divisions. This is how each of the tissues in our body maintains their cellular identity, for example as a liver cell or a neuron in the brain. When epigenetic control goes wrong, it can often lead to cancer. It has been thought for decades that all epigenetic marks must be cleared between generations, in order for the new developing organism to start with a clean slate. However, it has recently become clear that in some circumstances, epigenetic marks can be passed between generations and influence offspring, grandchildren, and beyond. Provocatively, this idea suggests that in some ways Lamarck may have been right, with his theory of inheritance of acquired traits. In this talk, Dr Ashe will discuss the science of epigenetics and share some of her own research into this fascinating field.

Dr Alyson Ashe is a Senior Lecturer and Group Leader in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney, where she uses the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to study the molecular mechanisms by which epigenetic signals are passed between generations. Dr Ashe completed her PhD in epigenetics with Professor Emma Whitelaw through the University of Sydney, where she first developed an interest in the new and fascinating field of epigenetics. She then completed a postdoctoral research period in the lab of Prof Eric Miska at the Gurdon Institute, Cambridge UK. Here she brought her love of epigenetics to a new model organism – the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans – and established a robust assay for studying transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. Dr Ashe moved back to the University of Sydney in 2014 to develop her own research program with a prestigious ARC DECRA Fellowship and subsequently has also been awarded an ARC Future Fellowship.

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