The DNA that makes up the genome (the collection of all the DNA in your cell) is tagged with various chemical marks that are attached either directly to the DNA or to its packaging proteins. These marks, collectively called the epigenome, act as a molecular mark-up language that tells the cell’s proteins which genes to turn ‘on’ or ‘off’. Unlike the genome, which remains largely the same throughout life, the epigenome changes with age, in response to environmental influences, and many types of disease.
Established in 2016, The Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium (CEEHRC) Network has developed a pan-Canadian network that links together existing Canadian Epigenetics and Environment Health Research Consortium components with Nodes of Genome Canada's Genomics Innovation Network and other research laboratories. CEEHRC, Led by Dr. Martin Hirst, has positioned Canada as a world leader in epigenomics by educating the broader Canadian research community in epigenomics and providing access to emerging epigenomic technologies and data that are essential to realizing the promise of epigenomics research for future generations of Canadians. In addition, members of the CEEHRC Network, including Dr. Martin Hirst (UBC) and Dr. Guillaume Bourque (McGill) have taken leadership roles within the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC) and have been instrumental in driving the success of the consortium.