School of Medicine

UC Irvine’s ‘Epigenetic Control and Cellular Plasticity Symposium’ sets sights on new approaches for personalized medical care and therapeutics

The organizers and speakers at the SymposiumSome of the world’s top scientists in the field convened at the University of California, Irvine on Oct. 6-7 for the third “Epigenetic Control and Cellular Plasticity Symposium” to engage in discussions on the multiple facets that connect epigenetics with emerging advances for the creation of personalized medical care and therapeutics.

Organized by the UC Irvine's Center for Epigenetics and Metabolism, the French scientific agency INSERM and the IPSEN Foundation, the symposium delved into epigenetics – which explores effects caused by genomic information that lies beyond the written DNA sequence of an organism – and its control of metabolism, disease, neurobiology, longevity and circadian rhythms.

“This symposium is of critical importance and comes at the right time to establish and strengthen scientific ties,” said Dr. Michael Stamos, interim dean of medicine, in opening remarks before a packed house at the Beckman Center. “We are pleased at UC Irvine to be a major player in this exciting field.”

Paolo Sassone-Corsi, director of the Center for Epigenetics & Metabolism and the Donald Bren Professor of Biological Chemistry, said spectacular advances in recent years in the study of epigenetics is placing the field at the heart of biological and pharmaceutical research. It’s a point shared by Yves Christen, president if the IPSEN Foundation, a leading French agency that supports emerging science.

“Epigenetics is the way to start discussing the huge complexities within biology when looking beyond the individual cell and into the total organism,” he said. “This important conference adds to the conversation that allows for the creation of new strategies, for instance, to understand and control the body’s metabolism with the focus to increase the human lifespan. And so much more.”

Among the distinguished speakers were Robert Roeder of the Rockefeller University, Leonard Guarente of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Gerald Crabtree of Stanford University, Eric Verdin of UCSF, and Juleen Zierath of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute.

As an organizing unit, INSERM continues its collaboration with UC Irvine, having established the INSERM-UCI unit headed by Emiliana Borrelli, professor of microbiology & molecular genetics, which allows for shared intellectual property rights on new discoveries and the exchange of students, postdoctoral fellows and sabbatical professors, giving UC Irvine more International visibility.

“The scientific contributions Dr. Borrelli have made within the INSERM-UCI unit have been remarkable,” said Mireille Guyader, INSERM’s U.S. bureau director. “This major conference, which has brought together top-notch speakers, is helping launch a new strategy in which epigenetics plays a key role in research on aging, the microbiome and other emerging fields.” 

“This symposium is at the heart of the Center for Epigenetics & Metabolism,” said Sassone-Corsi, one of the world’s leading researchers on circadian rhythm genetics. “It is the structure by which we connect, work and share.”

To learn more about the Center for Epigenetics & Metabolism, go to:

Photo caption: The organizers and speakers at the symposium

- Tom Vasich / UC Irvine Strategic Communications