The Network travels to Glasgow

Since the EpiStressNet Kick-off meeting in March 2016, our network has begun to grow and develop new ideas for research questions that could help to elucidate how the allostatic burden engendered by social stressors increases chronic disease risk.

Our research covers: (a) identifying these stressors, (b) elucidating the roles of epigenetic mechanisms in the biological embedding of the risks conferred on the body, and (c) evaluating the societal impacts of this growing area of knowledge as well as the claims that may be made in its name.

Several topics have been identified recently that seem particularly appropriate for discussion at our Glasgow meeting, and all members of EpiStressNet where invited to contribute to the discussion of these topics in the allocated sessions.

Each topic was introduced by a participant with a short ~10 minute scene-setting talk/PowerPoint presentation to stimulate discussion of ideas for project development, and encourage comments on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of any emerging ideas or work in progress.

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Dr Vincent Cunliffe opened the meeting with questions, and Professor Paul Shiels introduced the meeting with a talk on measuring allostatic load.

Professor Gwilym Pryce gave an interesting talk on Life at the Frontier.

Dr Maurizio Meloni took the lead on a discussion around his topic of Biopolitics in an Epigenetic age. Maurizio went into detail about future funding he is applying for.

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We where very fortunate to have Professor Moshe Szyf travel from Canada to engage in the discussions. Moshe opened the second part of the meeting by talking about epigenetic processes mediating the impact of stressful exposures on the phenotype.

Professor Moshe Szyf is a pioneer in the epigenetics field. Watch his video on Epigenetics & the Human Brain.

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The main questions which characterised the discussions over the day where:

  1. What can epigenetics studies tell us about how the social becomes biological (and vice versa)?
  2. Epigenetic Processes - mediators or measures of exposure leading to health?
  3. Risks of unintended consequences implying a need for caution in applying epigenetics findings?