About Dr. Randy Jirtle

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Randy L. Jirtle, Ph.D. directed the epigenetics and imprinting laboratory at Duke University in Durham, NC until 2012. He is now a Visiting Professor at McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research in the Department of Oncology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison, WI, and Professor of Epigenetics in the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Bedfordshire in Bedford, UK. Jirtle’s research interests are in epigenetics, genomic imprinting, and the developmental origins of disease susceptibility. He identified the first imprinted human tumor-suppressor gene (IGF2R), and showed that its inactivation increases tumor resistance to radiotherapy. His lab subsequently traced the mammalian origin of genomic imprinting from monotremes to placental mammals, which enabled him to complete the first genome-wide mapping of mouse and human imprinted genes using bioinformatic approaches. He was the first to demonstrate, utilizing the Agouti viable yellow mouse (Avy) model, that maternal dietary supplementation during pregnancy, with either methyl donors or genistein, decreases adult disease incidence in the offspring by increasing DNA methylation. These nutritional supplements were also shown to block the negative effects of CpG hypomethylation caused by the endocrine disruptor, bisphenol A (BPA). Jirtle recently demonstrated that low doses of X-rays during gestation elicit epigenetic alterations that lead to positive adaptive phenotypic changes that are negated with antioxidants. These findings provide the first evidence that epigenetic alterations resulting from low LET radiation play a role in radiation hormesis, bringing into question the assumption that every dose of radiation is harmful. He is now involved in defining the human imprintome, and the role that environmentally-induced deregulation of imprinted genes plays in the pathogenesis of human diseases and neurological disorders. Springer published in 2013 two books by Dr. Jirtle entitled, Environmental Epigenomics in Health and Disease: Epigenetics and Disease Origins and Environmental Epigenomics in Health and Disease: Epigenetics and Complex Diseases. Dr. Jirtle received the Jean Andrews Centennial Faculty Fellowship in Human Nutrition from the University of Texas – Austin, and the Linus Pauling Award from the Institute of Functional Medicine in 2014.