Two BioSci Faculty Receive NIH/NIEHS Grant Awards

Congratulations to Dr. Cathrine Hoyo and Dr. Michael Cowley!


Dr. Michael Cowley is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

The Cowley laboratory studies how environmental exposures during early life affect health and disease in adulthood. Using the mouse as a model, they investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying these programming effects, focusing particularly on epigenetic changes that occur in response to an exposure. They also employ high-throughput techniques (next-generation sequencing) to identify early epigenetic and transcriptomic changes and aim to understand the processes through which these lead to an altered phenotype in later life.

Dr. Michael Cowley was awarded an NIH/NIEHS K22 grant ($483,000) from September 2017 to August 2020 to study the “Epigenetic Mechanisms Linking In Utero Cadmium Exposure to Hepatic Steatosis.”


Dr. Cathrine Hoyo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Director of the Epidemiology and Environmental Epigenomics Laboratory.

Research in the Epidemiology and Environmental Epigenomics lab (Hoyo, Jirtle and Skaar) involves the identification and characterization of epigenomic marks that are perturbed by early environmental exposures to alter susceptibility to chronic diseases, including cancer, later in life. They use cohort study design in early life to characterize the timing of exposures, and the stability of epigenetic response over time. The Epidemiology and Environmental Epigenomics lab also use case-control designs, to determine the extent to which identified epigenetic marks are associated with chronic diseases. Long term, these epigenetic marks should be developed as assessment biomarkers and to generate hypothesis relating their involvement in the etiology of specific disease pathways.

Dr. Cathrine Hoyo, Dr. David Skaar, and Dr. Randy Jirtle were awarded an NIH/NIEHS R21 grant ($416,625) from August 2017 to July 2019 to study the “Identification of Human Imprint Regulatory Regions Associated with Obesity in Children.”

Dr. Cathrine Hoyo with Co-investigator, Dr. Joan Kaufman, was awarded an NIH/NIEHS R01 grant ($4,220,670) from August 2017 to May 2022 to study the “Social Adversities, Epigenetics, and the Obesity Epidemic.”