Schumacher Lab Profile
Research Focus: Epigenetics of complex diseases and development of high-throughput epigenetic profiling methods.
Our research projects focus on detailed epigenetic whole-genome analysis in Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, frontotemporal dementia, borderline syndrome and other complex disorders. Many lines of evidence show that certain forms of epigenetic dysregulation may explain unclear features of such complex, Non-Mendelian diseases. In collaboration with several academic and corporate research groups, we developed, among other methods, a detailed high-throughput microarray-based method of methylation profiling on a genome-wide scale. One of the long-range goals of then lab includes the development of better epigenetic profiling methods, that can be used to screen a complete genome for several different epigenetic modifications with high resolution. Currently, we use so called Â“epigenetic microarraysÂ” and MALDI-TOF MS Mass Spectrometry to screen for epigenetic abberations in complex diseases. With these new and innovative profiling technologies the complete methylation status for each CpG site within a target region can be determined in detail. Additionally, the group focusses on environmental effects on the epigenome (such as radiation, stress, diet etc..). Epigenetics may help in understanding how hazardous environmental factors interact with the genome and modulate its activity. This may substantially change our understanding of the genesis of a disease, and provide the basis for numerous theoretical and experimental developments that may ultimately impact on clinical care. Novel methods of molecular diagnosis (e.g. epigenetic biomarkers), identification of patients at risk, and improved treatment or prophylactic interventions depend on a greater knowledge of the epigenetic etiology and pathophysiology of AlzheimerÂ’s disease or schizophrenia.