Dr. Tania L. Roth
University of Delaware
Department of Psychology
108 Wolf Hall
Newark, DE 19716
Phone: 302-831-2787
Fax: 302-831-3645

Research Interests

In the Roth research lab we are interested in understanding how environmental factors, such as parenting behavior and social stress, can influence the development of behavior and psychiatric disorders. Scientists have long recognized that gene expression, the process by which the information in DNA Roth Lab Groupis used to produce proteins, is strongly affected by these types of experiences. Exciting advances in the field of behavioral epigenetics have begun to demonstrate that these experiences can physically leave their mark on areas of DNA that code for genes known to play an important role in behavior and mental health. These marks represent changes to the genome, which occurs through a process referred to as epigenetics. One such epigenetic mark is DNA methylation, a type of chemical modification of DNA that can be inherited without change to the DNA sequence and typically disrupts gene expression. DNA methylation has also emerged as a leading candidate biological pathway linking gene-environment interactions to various psychiatric disorders (i.e. post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression). DNA Methylation

Our primary interests are centered on identifying epigenetic changes associated with early-life caregiving experiences, particularly maltreatment. To better understand the relationship between caregiver maltreatment, epigenetic marking of the genome, and behavioral outcomes, we utilize various Dr. Rothmolecular and behavior assays in developing and adult rats. We focus on multiple brain regions that play a significant role in behavior and mental health, and that are particularly susceptible to the damaging effects of early-life stress. Research questions we ask include:

• Do positive (nurturing caregiving) and negative (caregiver maltreatment) early-life events produce distinct patterns of DNA methylation in the infant brain?
• Do these patterns differ between males and females?
• Are the patterns observed in the prefrontal cortex the same as those in the hippocampus?
• Are these patterns maintained throughout the lifespan?
• Are epigenetic changes correlated with behavioral performance?

Summary of Center-Funded Research

Roth CV
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