Epigenetics - Andrea Baccarelli

Andrea Baccarelli's Laboratory of Precision Environmental Health focuses largely on epigenetics, the biochemical pathways that translate genetic codes. Baccarelli's 170+ publications explore a variety of environmental exposures (air pollution, metals, bisphenol A, psychosocial stress, etc.) and are providing a basis for public health policy.

Pivotal Work

Baccarelli was among the first to show that pollutants alter epigenetic translation through DNA methylation, a process in which a methyl group molecule attaches to DNA to silence or activate certain genes. The EPA lowered the legal limit for dioxin emissions in the U.S. after Baccarelli showed the link between prenatal dioxin exposure affects child thyroid function. The Chinese government has looked to his work on the health effects of pollution in Beijing to tighten clean air regulations.

Baccarelli was also among the first to show our epigenome changes as we age. This is supported by work that older individuals are much more vulnerable to air pollution.

Current Precision Prevention Work 

Baccarelli's recent findings in PNAS and Science Reports detail the effect of Vitamin B supplements in reversing epigenetic cardiovascular and immune damage caused by fine-particle air pollution. This study is a launching pad for research to develop preventive interventions to minimize the adverse effects of air pollution, as well as research on other toxicants and environmental diseases since epigenetic modifications play a key role in mediating environmental effects.