Samson Jacob, M.D.
Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
College of Medicine
Primary Food Innovation Center Area: Biomedical Nutrition
Areas of Expertise: Epigenetic and Transcriptional regulation in cancer, role of microRNAs in cancer, diet-induced mouse models for hepatocellular carcinoma
My laboratory is focused upon understanding the epigenetic changes that occur during carcinogenesis. Quite remarkably, we found that diet and nutrition is one critical factor influencing epigenetic modification of the genome. We discovered that specific genes were methylated and silenced in liver tumors produced by a dietary deficiency of folate and the encoded protein exhibits all the known characteristics of a bona fide tumor suppressor. We also found alterations in the epigenetic factors in HCC induced by folate deficiency, which is common in many parts of the world where liver cancer is prevalent. We look forward to integrating our work into the Food Innovation Center for additional studies of gene:nutrient interactions.