Dr Jirtle receives Linus Pauling Award

Institute for Functional Medicine

At the Institute for Functional Medicine’s 2014 Annual International Conference, held May 29 – 31, 2014 in San Francisco, California, Randy L. Jirtle, PhD, was honored by receiving the Linus Pauling Functional Medicine Award. The Linus Pauling Award has been presented by the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) since 1996 to clinicians and researchers whose work has pioneered important principles in the Functional Medicine model. Jeffrey Bland, PhD, IFM Chairman Emeritus, had this to say about Dr. Jirtle’s selection as the 2014 Linus Pauling Functional Medicine Award recipient:

“He is an extraordinary discoverer who crossed the boundaries of disciplinary myopia to become the father of environmental epigenomics. I also call him the father of nutritional epigenetics because of the important observation he has made as to the role that nutrients play in developmental biology and modulating the epigenome’s expression into the phenotype. In his work at Duke, with his post-doctoral student Dr. Robert Waterland, they made what I would consider one of those frame-shifting, epic, seismic discoveries that the nutritional environment of the pregnant animal will influence the phenotypic outcome of the offspring.”

July 19, 2014

What's Next Health: A Primer on Epigenetics

Robert Johnson Wood Foundation

Each month, What’s Next Health talks with leading thinkers with big ideas about the future of health and health care. Nancy Barrand, RWJF’s senior adviser for program development, hosted Randy Jirtle, senior scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison McArdle Laboratory, for a fascinating discussion about his work in epigenetics. Randy’s pioneering work in this field holds far-reaching implications for understanding and addressing the interplay between our genes and our environment. Randy answered follow up questions from Nancy to help lay out the basics behind epigenetics and what it might mean for our work moving forward.

July 19, 2014

Radiation Epigenetics

Bernal, et. al. FASEB (Nov 2012)

These findings provide the first evidence that epigenetic alterations resulting from low-dose ionizing radiation (LDIR) play a role in radiation hormesis, bringing into question the assumption that every dose of radiation is harmful. Humans are exposed to LDIR from a number of environmental and medical sources. In this study, we show that LDIR significantly increases DNA methylation at the viable yellow agouti (Avy) locus in a dose- and sex-dependent manner. Moreover, maternal dietary antioxidant supplementation mitigated both the DNA methylation changes and coat color shift in the irradiated offspring. Thus, LDIR exposure during gestation elicits epigenetic alterations that lead to positive adaptive phenotypic changes that are negated with antioxidants, indicating they are mediated in part by oxidative stress.

January 19, 2013

NIH Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series

On April 18, 2012, Dr. Jirtle delivered a lecture on "Epigenetics: How Genes and Environment Interact" as part of the NIH Director's prestigious Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series.

August 9, 2012

Invitation by the Nobel Assembly

Dr. Jirtle was invited to speak by the Nobel Assembly at their 2011 meeting on Pharmacogenomics and Epigenomics in Clinical Medicine. His lecture was entitled "Environmental Epigenomics and the Developmental Origins of Adult Disease."

August 9, 2012

Person of the Year 2007 Nominee

Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and pioneer in the science of addiction, nominated Dr. Jirtle to be Time Magazine's Person of the Year 2007.

I'd select the Duke University scientist whose pioneering work in epigenetics and genomic imprinting has uncovered a vast territory in which a gene represents less of an inexorable sentence and more of an access point for the environment to modify the genome. The trailblazing discoveries of Dr. Randy Jirtle have produced a far more complete and useful understanding of human development and diseases.

August 9, 2012

Genome-wide mapping of human imprinted genes

Luedi, et. al. Genome Res. (Dec 2007)

Imprinted genes are at high risk for envolvement in diseases since a single genetic mutation or an environmentally-induced epigenetic change can alter their function. A genome-wide search for imprinted genes in the human genome, with the use of computer-learning algorithms, resulted in the identification of 156 novel candidate imprinted genes, fewer than the number predicted in mice and in many cases different. Consequently, mice may not be a suitable choice for studying diseases resulting principally from the epigenetic deregulation of imprinted genes, or for assessing human risk from environmental factors that alter the epigenome.

  • JAMA
    December 31, 2007
    Scientists build map of imprinted genes
  • Nat Rev Genet
    December 31, 2007
    Imprinting: human genome gets full marks
  • Newsweek
    December 9, 2007
    A changing portrait of DNA
  • Associated Press
    November 29, 2007
    Duke scientists map silenced genes
  • Duke Med News
    November 29, 2007
    Duke scientists map imprinted genes in human genome

August 9, 2012

Negative bisphenol A effects on the epigenome blocked by nutritional supplements

Dolinoy, et. al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104:13056-13061 (2007)

In utero or neonatal exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a high-production-volume chemical used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic, is associated with higher body weight, increased breast and prostate cancer, and altered reproductive function. This study shows that exposure to BPA during pregnancy changes offspring phenotype by stably altering the epigenome, an effect that can be counteracted by maternal dietary supplements.

  • Kansas City Star
    September 15, 2007
    Study of epigenetics seeks to control genes' functions
  • Science News
    August 10, 2007
    Bad for baby: new risks found for plastic constituent
  • ScienCentralNews Video
    August 2, 2007
    Plastic bottle chemical
  • Forbes
    July 30, 2007
    Folate shields fetus against chemical in plastics
  • Telegraph
    July 30, 2007
    Chemicals in plastics may harm unborn babies
  • UPI
    July 30, 2007
    Prenatal exposure may cause child changes
  • US News and World Report
    July 30, 2007
    Folate shields fetus against chemical in plastics
  • Washington Post
    July 30, 2007
    Folate shields fetus against chemical in plastics
  • Duke Med News
    July 29, 2007
    Negative effects of plastic additive blocked by nutrient...
  • KSL
    July 29, 2007
    Study links mother's diet to child's vulnerability for disease
  • ScienCentralNews
    July 29, 2007
    Baby bottle chemical
  • NOVA ScienceNow
    July 23, 2007
    A tale of two mice

August 9, 2012

2006 Distinguished Achievement Award

University of Wisconsin-Madison, College of Engineering

Dr. Jirtle received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering at the 59th annual Engineers' Day.

Dr. Jirtle happily straddles the fields of biology and physics, and once again is using his engineering training as he begins a project to understand the impact of radiation on the epigenome. His efforts may enable him to identify nutritional supplements that protect the body from low-dose radiation.

August 9, 2012

Genistein methylates the fetal epigenome

Dolinoy, et. al. Environ Health Perspect 114:567-72 (2006)

Maternal dietary genistein supplementation of mice during gestation was shown in this paper to shift the coat color of Avy offspring from yellow to pseudoagouti by altering the epigenome rather than mutating the genome; a clear example of nature via nurture. Genistein, the major phytoestrogen in soy, is linked to diminished female reproductive performance and to cancer chemoprevention and decreased adipose deposition. Dietary genistein may also play a role in the decreased incidence of cancer in Asians compared with Westerners, as well as increased cancer incidence in Asians immigrating to the United States.

  • Science News
    April 24, 2006
    Nurture takes the spotlight decoding the environment's role in...
  • Duke Med News
    March 26, 2006
    Prenatal genistein in soy reduces obesity in offspring via...

August 9, 2012