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March 2014—Johns Hopkins researcher Andy Feinberg, M.D., M.P.H., the King Fahd Professor of Molecular Medicine and director of the Center for Epigenetics in the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, has been selected by NASA for an unusual opportunity: to study the effects of space flight on the human body, using a set of twins. His research group will explore whether and how spending a year on the International Space Station changes an astronaut’s epigenetic markers — the reversible chemical modifications to a person’s DNA that affect how genes act on the body — over time. The astronaut’s twin brother will remain on Earth and serve as a control subject. “If we can identify reversible epigenetic precursors of genetic damage to astronauts, our work could have a significant impact on long-duration space travel,” Feinberg says.
More information on the NASA research program can be found here.
More in-depth story with astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly and Andy Feinberg in the New York Times
Andrew Feinberg on charm school, London and complex diseases