Sarah Kimmins, BSc, MSc, PhD
Associate professor, McGill University
My research field is centered on epigenetics, which is the study of reversible, heritable changes in gene function that excludes modification of the DNA. These changes to the epigenome profile can be induced by environmental factors such as diet, exposure to environmental toxicants (e.g. “forever chemicals” that persist in the environment) and drugs (e.g cannabis, and pharmacological). Environmental-induced changes to the epigenome are associated with diseases such cancer, autism, schizophrenia and infertility. We study epigenetic profiles in response to the environmental context at the genome-wide level using high-throughput technologies in combination with Artificial Intelligence (AI) , and in particular machine learning. A central focus of our research is determining how preconception and exposures through the lifespan alter the heritable information in the sperm epigenome and how this impacts embryo development and leads to disease in children. We translate our findings from basic and clinical research to develop epigenomic tools that offer a personalized medicine approaches to the improve the diagnosis and treatment of infertility in men. Investing in human health before birth will give each child the best start in life and will reduces societal costs as thriving children will build a sustainable future society.