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This week’s guest is Professor Moshe Szyf.
This is the second story of hope for us as a species. We have a level of control over our outcome that is baked into our DNA.
Dr. Moshe Szyf joins the show today to discuss the social programming of the epigenome. Dr. Szyf and his colleague Dr. Meaney proposed over two decades ago the first set of evidence that the “social environment” early in life can alter DNA methylation launching the emerging field of “social epigenetics”. He also has illustrated that DNA methylation is a prime therapeutic target in cancer and other diseases to be explored and potentially manipulated for health.
“Together, they discovered that our genetic code, the actual sequential structure of our DNA, can pretty much shrug off the influence of any external environmental factors, short of massive radiation. However, the expression of individual genes within that sequence can be permanently altered by such seemingly innocuous influences as diet or how others treat us. Once triggered, a group of molecules called a methyl group attaches itself to the control centre of a gene, permanently switching on or off the manufacture of proteins that are essential to the workings of every cell in our body. In most tumours, this DNA methylation pattern has been knocked awry, leading to a gene being completely deactivated or triggered to abnormally high activity.” (McGill Reporter
Dr. Szyf received his Ph. D from the Hebrew University and did his postdoctoral fellowship in Genetics at Harvard Medical School before he joined the department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He currently holds the James McGill Professorship in Pharmacology. He is the founding co-director of the Sackler Institute for Epigenetics and Psychobiology at McGill and is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Experience-based Brain and Biological Development program. Szyf has been the founder of the first “Pharma” to develop epigenetic pharmacology “Methylgene Inc.” and the first journal in epigenetics “Epigenetics”.
Please enjoy my conversation with Dr. Moshe Szyf,