Top alcohol researchers to discuss alcohol's effects on gene function

November 14, 2011

MAYWOOD, Il. -- Leading alcohol researchers from the United States and Canada will discuss their latest findings at an all-day meeting Nov. 18 at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Scientists will discuss the often negative effects that alcohol can have on how genes function in cells. Such changes are passed along to future generations of cells. These modifications, known as epigenetic changes, do not involve changes in the DNA sequence.

Much of the discussion will revolve around epigenetic changes caused by alcohol, especially two key events in the expression of genes -- DNA histone deacetylation and DNA methylation.

"Epigenetics is one of the many frontiers in alcohol research," said Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD, director of Loyola's Alcohol Research Program and associate director of Loyola's Burn & Shock Trauma Institute. At Loyola, about 50 faculty members, technicians, postdoctoral fellows and students are conducting alcohol research.

The conference is sponsored by the Alcohol and Immunology Research Interest Group and supported by Loyola's Alcohol Research Program and Department of Surgery; the Society for Leukocyte Biology; and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

About 60 researchers will attend the meeting. Speakers include:

Craig J. McClain, MD, University of Louisville
Epigenetics in the development and progression of alcoholic liver disease

Shivendra D. Shukla, PhD, University of Missouri
Histone modifications by ethanol

Joanne Weinberg, PhD, University of British Columbia
The impact of prenatal alcohol exposure on neuroendocrine and neuroimmune response to inflammation

Ali Keshavarzian, MD, Rush University
The role of circadian genes on alcohol-induced, gut- derived endotoxin mediated, inflammation

Liza Makowski, PhD, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Alcohol effects on adipose macrophages

Samir Zakhari, PhD, NIAAA
Epigenetics and the Immune System: Who Cares?

Loyola University Health System

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