Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Brain Sciences

Lecturer in Dementia Research, UK DRI Group Leader







Building E - Sir Michael UrenWhite City Campus





We are interested in how epigenetics interplays with the environment and genetic variability in order to modulate aging and age-related diseases, particularly neurodegeneration.

While aging is the top risk factor for neurodegeneration, the mechanisms through which aging predispose or drive the disease are unknown. Epigenetics is involved in the lifespan of model organisms and thus might play a role in aging and neurodegeneration in human.

Our studies, which compare the epigenome of healthy aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affected brains, revealed that different types of epigenetic marks, such as histone modifications, are differently associated with healthy aging and AD and drive different functional pathways.
Our analyses point to a model wherein AD is not simply the acceleration of aging, but a distinct and complex state where the loss of protective mechanisms interplay with the gain of disease-promoting mechanisms. Given the reversible nature of the epigenetic modifications, epigenetic drugs could potentially be used to influence the course of aging and disease.

Currently, we are investigating the epigenetic pathways that modulate environmental and metabolic stresses in different brain cell types in aging and neurodegeneration. Our goal is to identify potential pathways that promote neuronal resilience and/or modulate neuroinflammation. Because of the link between enhancers, environment, and genetic risk, we also aim to investigate the role of enhancer regulation in health and disease.

We combine genomic/epigenomic approaches (ChIP-seq, RNA-seq, ATAC-seq, 3D genome conformation) in tissue and cell culture models of iPSC-derived neurons, astrocytes, and microglia with in vitro functional experiments, such as CRISPR/Cas9, and CRISPRi/a-based.

Research opportunities

We are eager to hear from ambitious and science-driven researchers that would like to join the lab. Applications for independent fellowships/scholarships are welcome. Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss research projects and available opportunities.

Short bio

I joined Imperial College as a lecturer (equivalent to assistant professor) and group leader at the Dementia Research Institute (DRI) in October 2020. I obtained my PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Cambridge, where I worked on 3D genome conformation in genomic imprinting. During my postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Dr Shelley Berger at the University of Pennsylvania, I studied the role of epigenetics in healthy aging and neurodegeneration, a line of research that we continue to explore in our research program at Imperial.




Nativio R, Lan Y, Donahue G, et al., 2020, An integrated multi-omics approach identifies epigenetic alterations associated with Alzheimer's disease, Nature Genetics, Vol:52, ISSN:1061-4036, Pages:1024-1035

Mews P, Egervari G, Nativio R, et al., 2019, Alcohol metabolism contributes to brain histone acetylation, Nature, Vol:574, ISSN:0028-0836, Pages:717-721

Berson A, Nativio R, Berger SL, et al., 2018, Epigenetic Regulation in Neurodegenerative Diseases., Trends Neurosci, Vol:41, Pages:587-598

Nativio R, Donahue G, Berson A, et al., 2018, Dysregulation of the epigenetic landscape of normal aging in Alzheimer's disease, Nature Neuroscience, Vol:21, ISSN:1097-6256, Pages:497-505

Berson A, Sartoris A, Nativio R, et al., 2017, TDP-43 promotes neurodegeneration by impairing chromatin remodeling, Current Biology, Vol:27, ISSN:0960-9822, Pages:3579-3590.e6

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