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Presented By: Institute for Social Research

The Potential (and Pitfalls) using Epigenetics for Examining Social and Health Inequalities

Colter Mitchell

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Contact PSC Office for Zoom details.

Epigenetics, and specifically DNA methylation, is rapidly increasing in use in the social and health sciences because of its clear potential to link basic biological processes to social and physical exposures. Using different DNA methylation measures can provide key insights into the health consequences of inequities, including measures of biological aging (i.e. epigenetic clocks), biomarkers of disease, and residues of social and environmental exposures. However, several key assumptions are yet to be fully examined that fall within classic demographic considerations. These include the reliability of the measures, several population considerations (i.e. human and cellular population characteristics), and longitudinal change. Using longitudinal DNA methylation data (ages 9 and 15) from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, this presentation will show both the potential and concerns of using epigenetic data for social and health research from a population studies perspective.

Dr. Colter Mitchell’s research utilizes a range of biological data types such as epigenetics, neuroimaging, and genetics to better understand how social conditions shape population health. In particular, his work uses these biomarkers to elucidate pathways by which social inequalities cause health inequalities. This research uses longitudinal population-based studies where biological data are collected at multiple timepoints. His research also includes the development of new methods for integrating the collection and analysis of biological and social data.

Population Studies Center (PSC) Brown Bag seminars highlight recent research in population studies and serve as a focal point for building our research community.

Contact PSC Office for Zoom details.

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February 22, 2021 (Monday) 12:00pm
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