Principal Investigator


The Heller Lab studies the epigenetic mechanisms that underlie aberrant neuronal function and behavior in neuropsychiatric disease. To approach this problem, we apply preclinical mouse paradigms of drug addiction and depression to determine functionally relevant histone modifications. Because the syndromes of addiction and depression persist long after cessation of the harmful experience, stable epigenetic remodeling is an attractive mechanism for such long-lasting effects and presents an intriguing target for therapeutic intervention. We use high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatic approaches, including machine learning, to identify genes at which drug- or stress-regulation of the epigenome correlates with changes in gene expression. Using novel epigenetic editing tools, we then target individual modifications and examine their causal relevance to transcription and behavior. This ‘bottom-up’ approach allows direct elucidation of the causal relevance of epigenetic remodeling in the brain.

Latest News

Sep 21
Delaney Fischer: Paper Published

Graduate Student alumni Delany Fischer published a paper, titled “Cocaine regulation of Nr4a1 chromatin bivalency and mRNA in male and female mice,” in Scientific Reports. Congratulations Delaney!

View paper here

Sep 19
CURF Fall Research Expo 2022

Undergraduate students, Chloe Han, Emily Ng, and Ericka Ekobeni, presented posters at the CURF Fall Research Expo 2022. Thank you to the Center for Undergraduate Research for their generous Grant for Faculty Mentoring Undergraduate Researchers!

View more information here

student with poster student with poster

Aug 05
Delaney Fischer Defends Thesis: Sex-Specific Regulation of Promoter Bivalency in the Mouse Striatum

Neuroscience Graduate Group member Delaney Fischer defends her thesis: Sex-Specific Regulation of Promoter Bivalency in the Mouse Striatum. Congratulations Delaney!

View more here: Fischer Defense

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