Our lab is interested in three main questions. How and where are long-term memories stored in the brain? Why are memories lost during neurodegeneration such as in Alzheimer´s Disease? How can traumatic memories from the past be overcome?
To answer these questions, our lab focuses on the emerging field of neuroepigenetics. "Epi-genetic" mechanisms, i.e. modifications to the chromatin that regulate gene expression without changing the DNA sequence itself, have not only been shown to react to fluctuating environmental contingencies, but also to encode the cell fate of neurons and other cell types during development. With this Janus-faced property of being at once dynamic and stable, we believe that epigenetic mechanisms harbor the potential to better explain the molecular processes that govern learning, memory and memory loss. In extension, because epigenetic mechanisms are also amenable to pharmacological intervention, they might constitute a novel angle on how to counteract memory loss and resilient traumatic memories.
For further information, please also see: http://graefflab.epfl.ch/
Gräff J., Joseph NF., Horn ME., Samiei A., Meng J., Seo J., Rei D., Bero AW., Phan TX., Wagner F., Holson E., Xu J., Sun J., Neve RL., Mach RH., Haggarty SJ., Tsai LH. (2014) Epigenetic priming of memory updating during reconsolidation to attenuate remote fear memories. Cell, 156 (1-2) : 261-76.
Gräff J., Tsai LH. (2013) Histone acetylation: molecular mnemonics on the chromatin. Nat. Rev. Neurosci., 14 (2) : 97-111.
Gräff J., Kahn M., Samiei A., Gao J., Ota KT., Rei D., Tsai LH. (2013) A dietary regimen of caloric restriction or pharmacological activation of SIRT1 to delay the onset of neurodegeneration. J. Neurosci., 33 (21) : 8951-60.
Gräff J., Rei D., Guan JS., Wang WY., Seo J., Hennig KM., Nieland TJ., Fass DM., Kao PF., Kahn M., Su SC., Samiei A., Joseph N., Haggarty SJ., Delalle I., Tsai LH. (2012) An epigenetic blockade of cognitive functions in the neurodegenerating brain. Nature, 483 (7388) : 222-6.
Gräff J., Woldemichael BT., Berchtold D., Dewarrat G., Mansuy IM. (2012) Dynamic histone marks in the hippocampus and cortex facilitate memory consolidation. Nat. Commun., 3 : 991.
2013 MIT School of Science Infinite K Award, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2010 Bard Richmond Research Fellowship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (until 2013)
2011 Scholarship, Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology
2009 Fellowship for Prospective Researchers, Swiss National Science Foundation (until 2010)
2009 Travel Grant, Swiss Society of Neuroscience
2008 1st Prize, PhD Students Presentation Series, EPFL/Zurich University
2006 Travel Grant for PhD Students, Center for Neuroscience, EPFL/Zurich University
2006 Travel Grant for Research Assistants, University of Zürich, Switzerland (& 2008, 2009)