The severity of the illness experienced by those who require support in an intensive care unit has profound effects. These effects are not limited to the initial period of illness; functional capacity is reduced and mortality increased for months and years after. How these effects are brought about and sustained is not well understood.
We try to understand how the major stress of critical illness changes a person’s genome
Ultimately how a person responds to an illness depends as much on their own intrinsic response as it does on the initial insult. It is the factors underlying this intrinsic response that we study, trying to understand how the major stress of critical illness encodes changes in a person’s genome structure and function.
In our cell nuclei, DNA is formed into a complex with RNA and protein called chromatin. How this complex is patterned, folded and oriented is plastic in response to stress and plays a crucial role in the expression of genes. Our studies use various methods, including molecular biological and nuclear fluorescence imaging techniques, to shed light on the fundamental processes underlying the genomic response to severe stress.