Assistant Professor Timothy Bredy, Queensland Brain Institute.
My work on memory and cognition is driven by a strong interest in understanding how environmental cues and experience translate into long-term memories. In recent years, there has been a surge of interest in understanding how epigenetic mechanisms mediate environmental influences on the function of the genome. Epigenetics refers to all genetic information not encoded in the DNA sequence, with the best-understood consequence of epigenetic modifications being the regulation of gene expression. Post-translational modification of histone proteins and covalent modification of DNA (methylation, hydroxymethylation) can influence the function of the genome in a number of ways including; the regulation of alternative splicing and transposable elements, the development of bivalent chromatin marks that render genes “poised” for transcriptional activity, or by directing nucleosome repositioning to “bookmark” recently activated genes. Non-coding RNAs direct epigenetic processes and can regulate genes by interfering with translation or by promoting RNA degradation, and are thus capable of both enhancing, or repressing, gene activity. The main aim of my research program is to establish a role for the epigenome in rodent models of associative learning that are relevant to fear-related anxiety disorders. We combine in vitro approaches including primary cortical neuron culture and luciferase assay, in vivo lentiviral-mediated gene transfer, and genome-wide epigenetic profiling by deep sequencing with behavioral assays to answer important questions about the fundamental mechanisms of learning and memory. Our recent high impact publications in Journal of Neuroscience and Nature Neuroscience demonstrate the ability to successfully fulfill each of the aims outlined in this application.