skip to content »

Children's Nutrition Research Center - Faculty

Houston, Texas

As a premier academic medical center, BCM accepts the mantle of leadership in patient care, research, and education.
Children's Nutrition Research Center - Faculty
not shown on screen

Robert Waterland, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular & Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine


Waterland Lab members

Waterland Lab Members: Shown, from left, are You-e Yan, Ph.D., Govindarajan Kunde-Ramamoorthy, MSc, Eleonora Laritsky, MSc, Rob Waterland, Ph.D., Maria Baker, Ph.D., and Ge Li, Ph.D.

Research Interests

Early Nutritional Influences on Mammalian Epigenetic Gene Regulation

Research in the Waterland laboratory aims to understand how nutrition during prenatal and early postnatal development affects individual susceptibility to various adult-onset chronic diseases. Dr. Waterland’s group focuses on nutritional influences on developmental epigenetics as a likely mediating mechanism. Epigenetic gene regulatory mechanisms regulate tissue-specific patterns of gene expression and are established during development. Cytosine methylation is an epigenetic mechanism of particular interest because mammalian one-carbon metabolism, which supplies the methyl groups for DNA methylation, is intimately dependent on dietary methyl donors and cofactors. The Waterland group is increasingly interested in whether maternal obesity and nutrition before and during pregnancy affect developmental epigenetics in the hypothalamus and, consequently, body weight regulation in her offspring.

Epigenetics in the News:

Oct. 7, 2003
The New York Times, “A Pregnant Mother’s Diet May Turn the Genes Around”

July 5, 2004
The Scientist, “Epigenetics: Genome, Meet Your Environment”

Dec.16, 2005
Science, “Supplements Restore Gene Function via Methylation”

Nov. 22, 2006
Discover Magazine, “DNA is Not Destiny”

Oct. 21, 2008
ScienCentral, “Inherited Obesity is Amplified Across Generations”

Oct. 23, 2009
The New York Times, "Scientists Seek Origins of Obesity in the Womb"

August 2010
Scientific American, "How Acquired Diseases Become Hereditary Illnesses"

Key Publications

Major epigenetic development distinguishing neuronal and non-neuronal cells occurs postnatally in the murine hypothalamus.
Li G, Zhang W, Baker MS, Laritsky E, Mattan-Hung N, Yu D, Kunde-Ramamoorthy G, Simerly RB, Chen R, Shen L, Waterland RA.
Hum Mol Genet. 2013 Nov 13. [Epub ahead of print]

Fetal growth restriction promotes physical inactivity and obesity in female mice.
Baker MS, Li G, Kohorst JJ, Waterland RA.
Int J Obes (Lond). 2013 Aug 8. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2013.146. [Epub ahead of print]

DNA methylation potential: dietary intake and blood concentrations of one-carbon metabolites and cofactors in rural African women.
Dominguez-Salas P, Moore SE, Cole D, da Costa KA, Cox SE, Dyer RA, Fulford AJ, Innis SM, Waterland RA, Zeisel SH, Prentice AM, Hennig BJ.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jun;97(6):1217-27. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.048462. Epub 2013 Apr 10.

Early postnatal nutrition determines adult physical activity and energy expenditure in female mice.
Li G, Kohorst JJ, Zhang W, Laritsky E, Kunde-Ramamoorthy G, Baker MS, Fiorotto ML, Waterland RA.
Diabetes. 2013 Aug;62(8):2773-83. doi: 10.2337/db12-1306. Epub 2013 Apr 1.

Developmentally programmed 3' CpG island methylation confers tissue- and cell-type-specific transcriptional activation.
Yu DH, Ware C, Waterland RA, Zhang J, Chen MH, Gadkari M, Kunde-Ramamoorthy G, Nosavanh LM, Shen L.
Mol Cell Biol. 2013 May;33(9):1845-58. doi: 10.1128/MCB.01124-12. Epub 2013 Mar 4.

Season of conception in rural gambia affects DNA methylation at putative human metastable epialleles.
Waterland RA, Kellermayer R, Laritsky E, Rayco-Solon P, Harris RA, Travisano M, Zhang W, Torskaya MS, Zhang J, Shen L, Manary MJ, Prentice AM.
PLoS Genet. 2010 Dec 23;6(12):e1001252.

Comparison of sequencing-based methods to profile DNA methylation and identification of monoallelic epigenetic modifications.
Harris RA, Wang T, Coarfa C, Nagarajan RP, Hong C, Downey SL, Johnson BE, Fouse SD, Delaney A, Zhao Y, Olshen A, Ballinger T, Zhou X, Forsberg KJ, Gu J, Echipare L, O'Geen H, Lister R, Pelizzola M, Xi Y, Epstein CB, Bernstein BE, Hawkins RD, Ren B, Chung WY, Gu H, Bock C, Gnirke A, Zhang MQ, Haussler D, Ecker JR, Li W, Farnham PJ, Waterland RA, Meissner A, Marra MA, Hirst M, Milosavljevic A, Costello JF.
Nat Biotechnol. 2010 Oct;28(10):1097-105. doi: 10.1038/nbt.1682. Epub 2010 Sep 19.

Epigenomic profiling indicates a role for DNA methylation in early postnatal liver development.
Waterland RA, Kellermayer R, Rached MT, Tatevian N, Gomes MV, Zhang J, Zhang L, Chakravarty A, Zhu W, Laritsky E, Zhang W, Wang X, Shen L. Hum Mol Genet 2009 (E-pub available).

Methyl donor supplementation prevents transgenerational amplification of obesity.
Waterland RA, Travisano M, Tahiliani KG, Rached MT, Mirza S.
Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 Sep;32(9):1373-9. Epub 2008 Jul 15.
PMID: 18626486 [PubMed - in process]

Genome-wide profiling of DNA methylation reveals a class of normally methylated CpG island promoters.
Shen L, Kondo Y, Guo Y, Zhang J, Zhang L, Ahmed S, Shu J, Chen X, Waterland RA, Issa JP.
PLoS Genet. 2007 Oct;3(10):2023-36. Epub 2007 Sep 10.
PMID: 17967063 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Diet-induced hypermethylation at agouti viable yellow is not inherited transgenerationally through the female.
Waterland RA, Travisano M, Tahiliani KG.
FASEB J. 2007 Oct;21(12):3380-5. Epub 2007 Jun 5.
PMID: 17551099 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Maternal methyl supplements increase offspring DNA methylation at Axin Fused.
Waterland RA, Dolinoy DC, Lin JR, Smith CA, Shi X, Tahiliani KG.
Genesis. 2006 Sep;44(9):401-6.
PMID: 16868943 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Transposable elements: targets for early nutritional effects on epigenetic gene regulation.
Waterland RA, Jirtle RL.
Mol Cell Biol. 2003 Aug;23(15):5293-300.
PMID: 12861015 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

E-mail this page to a friend