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Photo of Dr. Hans Bjornsson

Hans Tomas Bjornsson, M.D., Ph.D.

Director of Epigenetic and Chromatin Clinic
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Male  | Languages: English, Danish, German, Icelandic

Main Location

The Johns Hopkins Hospital

Titles

  • Director of Epigenetic and Chromatin Clinic
  • Assistant Program Director, Clinical Genetics
  • Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Genetics
  • Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Centers & Institutes

Departments

Locations

The Johns Hopkins Hospital

600 N. Wolfe Street
Carnegie 446D1
Baltimore, MD 21287 map

The Johns Hopkins Hospital

Appointment Phone: 410-955-3071

600 N. Wolfe Street
Sheikh Zayed Tower
Baltimore, MD 21287 map

Expertise

Clinical Genetics, Pediatrics

Research Interests

Epigenetics; Kabuki syndrome; Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome; Mendelian Disorders of the Histone Machinery

Biography

Dr. Hans Tomas Bjornsson is an assistant professor of pediatrics and genetics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His areas of clinical expertise include clinical genetics and pediatrics.

He is a faculty member in the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine. Dr. Bjornsson serves as the director of the Epigenetic and Chromatin Clinic and assistant program director of Clinical Genetics.

He earned his M.D. from the University of Iceland and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins. He completed a combined pediatrics and medical genetics residency program at Johns Hopkins.

Dr. Bjornsson’s research focuses on exploring the epigenomic impact of various Mendelian disorders of the epigenetic machinery. He is also interested in epigenetic-based therapeutic development with focus on developing therapies for Mendelian disorders of the histone machinery and imprinting disorders.

Dr. Bjornsson serves on the faculty of the Medical Scientist Training/MD-PhD Program. In 2013, he receive an Early Independence Award from the National Institutes of Health, a prestigious grant that gives promising junior scientists the opportunity to skip traditional post-doctoral training and move directly into independent research roles. He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Society of Human Genetics.

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    Additional Information

  • Education +

    Degrees

    • University of Iceland / MD (2001)

    Residencies

    • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine / Pediatrics (2015)

    Certifications

    • American Board of Medical Genetics / Clinical Genetics / MD (2013)
  • Research & Publications +

    Research Summary

    Dr. Bjornsson’s research focuses on exploring the epigenomic impact of various Mendelian disorders of the epigenetic machinery. He is also interested in epigenetic-based therapeutic development with focus on developing therapies for Mendelian disorders of the histone machinery and imprinting disorders.

    Lab:

    Epigenetic modifications offer one plausible way that the environment (both external and internal) can directly affect gene expression. Epigenetic modifications have also been known to minimize disease states by buffering the impact of genetic variants (i.e., agouti viable yellow mouse model). Dr. Bjornsson’s laboratory is interested in developing epigenetic treatment strategies to minimize disease mortality and morbidity caused by genetic mutations. They feel that a logical first place to test epigenetic therapeutic strategies is to develop therapies for specific Mendelian disorders of the epigenetic machinery. Dr. Bjornsson has recently initiated a clinic that focuses on caring for patients with epigenetic disorders, including the imprinting disorders and Mendelian disorders of the epigenetic machinery. In addition to learning from the patients they care for and working towards therapies for these patients, the lab hopes to learn some fundamental truths about epigenetics.

    Dr. Bjornsson and his team are interested in:

    1. Exploring the epigenomic impact of various Mendelian disorders of the epigenetic machinery;
    2. Epigenetic therapeutic development with focus on developing therapies for disorders of the histone machinery and imprinting disorders;
    3. Exploring the usefulness of the epigenomic biomarker to monitor disease states or treatment effects.

    Selected Publications View all on PubMed

    Sigurdsson MI, Smith AV, Bjornsson HT*, Jonsson JJ*. The distribution of a germline methylation marker suggests a regional mechanism of LINE-1 silencing by the piRNA-PIWI system. BMC Genet. 2012 Apr 24;13:31. PubMed PMID: 22530917. *Co-corresponding authors.

    Sigurdsson MI, Smith AV, Bjornsson HT, Jonsson JJ. HapMap methylation-associated SNPs, markers of germline DNA methylation, positively correlate with regional levels of human meiotic recombination. Genome Res. 2009 Feb 20. PMID: 19158364

    Wen B, Wu H, Bjornsson H, Green RD, Irizarry R, Feinberg AP. Overlapping euchromatin/heterochromatin- associated marks are enriched in imprinted gene regions and predict allele-specific modification. Genome Res. 2008 Nov;18(11):1806-13. Epub 2008 Oct 10. PMID: 18849526 [PubMed - in process]

    Bjornsson HT, Sigurdsson MI, Fallin MD, Irizarry RA, Aspelund T, Cui H, Yu W, Rongione MA, Ekstrm TJ, Harris TB, Launer LJ, Eiriksdottir G, Leppert MF, Sapienza C, Gudnason V, Feinberg AP. Intra-individual change over time in DNA methylation with familial clustering. JAMA. 2008 Jun 25;299(24):2877-83. PMID: 18577732 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

    Bjornsson HT, Albert TJ, Ladd-Acosta CM, Green RD, Rongione MA, Middle CM, Irizarry RA, Broman KW, Feinberg AP. SNP-specific array-based allele-specific expression analysis. Genome Res. 2008 May;18(5):771-9. Epub 2008 Mar 27. PMID: 18369178 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

    Bjornsson HT, Brown LJ, Fallin MD, Rongione MA, Bibikova M, Wickham E, Fan JB, Feinberg AP. Epigenetic specificity of loss of imprinting of the IGF2 gene in Wilms tumors. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2007 Aug 15;99(16):1270-3. Epub 2007 Aug 8. PMID: 17686827 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

    Bjornsson HT, Ellingsen LM, Jonsson JJ. Transposon-derived repeats in the human genome and 5-methylcytosine-associated mutations in adjacent genes. Gene. 2006 Mar 29;370:43-50. Epub 2006 Jan 30. PMID: 16446059 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

    Bjornsson HT, Fallin MD, Feinberg AP. An integrated epigenetic and genetic approach to common human disease. Trends Genet. 2004 Aug;20(8):350-8. PMID: 15262407 [PubMed -indexed for MEDLINE]

  • Academic Affiliations & Courses +
  • Activities & Honors +

    Honors

    • Residency Redesign Challenge Grant, Institute for Excellence in Education, Johns Hopkins Medicine
    • Fulbright Fellowship, 2002
    • Thor Thors Award, American-Scandinavian Foundation, 2006
    • Margaret Ellen Nielsen Fellow Award, IGM, 2007
    • Francis F. Schwentker Award, Department of Pediatrics, 2009
    • Frank L. Coulson, Jr. Award for Clinical Excellence, 2012

    Memberships

    • American Academy of Pediatrics
    • American Society of Human Genetics
  • Videos & Media +
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