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Dr Matthew Suderman

Dr Matthew Suderman

Dr Matthew Suderman
PhD

Lecturer in Epigenetic Epidemiology

Area of research

Encoding of early life exposure in DNA methylation

Office BS5
Oakfield House,
Oakfield Grove, Clifton BS8 2BN
(See a map)

+44 (0) 1173310090

Summary

Certain early life exposures such as malnutrition and abuse are known to affect health outcomes later in life. However, these relationships are highly variable, dependent on many factors including the unique genetics and environments of each individual. Furthermore, recollections of life history can be extremely inaccurate. Consequently, it can be difficult to identify high-risk individuals, to recommend effective treatments or to assess treatment effectiveness in a timely manner. Recent studies have shown that many exposures are encoded in the methylation levels of blood DNA including cigaratte smoke, age, trauma, diet, stress and socio-economic position. My goal is to characterize the associations between blood DNA methylation levels and a wide variety of exposures throughout life, particularly early exposures and those later exposures that appear to mitigate the health outcomes of early exposures.  These characterizations may then suggest more targetted experiments to develop DNA methylation-based assays to help piece together exposure histories in order to identify high-risk individuals, to select interventions likely to improve health, and to monitor the effectiveness of ongoing interventions.

Biography

In 2005 I received a PhD in Computer Science at McGill University.  My thesis investigated methods for automatically drawing networks on 2-dimensional surfaces. Hoping to apply these methods to biological data, I signed up for postdoctoral research in bioinformatics under the supervision of Michael Hallett (bioinformatics) and later Moshe Szyf (epigenetics). There my focus turned from networks to epigenetics. For the next several years I analyzed  genome-wide DNA methylation and transcriptional profiles from a variety of tissues and organisms for associations with various exposures and disease states. These analyses suggested that blood DNA methylation profiles may be used to piece together accurate exposure histories to better predict later health outcomes, but that further progress would require analysis of methylation profiles from large, well-characterized human cohorts. This led to my appointment in 2013 as a researcher at the University Bristol to analyze methylation profiles from members of ALSPAC under the supervision of Caroline Relton and George Davey Smith. 

Activities / Findings

Certain early life exposures such as malnutrition and abuse are known to affect health outcomes later in life. However, these relationships are highly variable, dependent on many factors including the unique genetics and environments of each individual. Furthermore, recollections of life history can be extremely inaccurate. Consequently, it can be difficult to identify high-risk individuals, to recommend effective treatments or to assess treatment effectiveness in a timely manner. Recent studies have shown that many exposures are encoded in the methylation levels of blood DNA including cigaratte smoke, age, trauma, diet, stress and socio-economic position. My goal is to characterize the associations between blood DNA methylation levels and a wide variety of exposures throughout life, particularly early exposures and those later exposures that appear to mitigate the health outcomes of early exposures.  These characterizations may then suggest more targetted experiments to develop DNA methylation-based assays to help piece together exposure histories in order to identify high-risk individuals, to select interventions likely to improve health, and to monitor the effectiveness of ongoing interventions. 

Keywords

  • epigenetics
  • epigenome
  • DNA methylation
  • bioinformatics
  • exposure
  • early life
  • childhood abuse
  • socio-economic position
  • trauma
  • adversity

Methodologies

  • bioinformatics
  • Infinium Human Methylation 450 BeadChip
  • bisulfite sequencing

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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