Pune scientist researching epigenetics to unravel gene changes

The study which has assumed significance for the scientific community is being carried out by Dr Sanjeev Galande, recipient of this year's coveted Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar award instituted by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

Galande's research at National Centre for Cell Sciences (NCCS) here, is focusing on how the "dynamic changes in higher-order chromatin architecture leading to spatiotemporal changes in gene expression."

This line of research could result in greater understanding of aberrations in the normal patterns in the nucleus of a cell, leading to diseases and mutations that are epigenetic in nature, he said talking to PTI.

"A major emphasis is on studying epigenetic modifications, the heritable changes that influence gene function without changing the DNA sequence", the scientist who has also worked as post-doctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the USA, said.

Epigenetics is the study of inherited changes in phenotype or gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence.

The ongoing research with a long term goal of finding treatment for the diseases, concerns as to how dynamic changes in higher-order chromatin assembly governs gene expression in a spatial and temporal manner, Galande said.

"We are particularly interested in studying implication of these phenomena towards development and differentiation of cells. To accomplish this, we use a wide variety of model systems such as cells of immune system as well as stem cells," he explained, adding that the "outcome of these studies would be important to understand biology of infectious diseases and cancer".

As part of his research, Galande has established a multi-disciplinary programme facilitating interface of biochemistry, molecular biology, bio informatics and cell biology, thus assembling a team of scientists to study evolution of epigenetic mechanism using multiple model systems.

Galande, who won the prestigious Bhatnagar award for "outstanding contribution" in biological sciences category, is currently working at the epigenetics department of Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER).

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