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Research overview

The possibility that our environment can influence phenotypes in our descendants has tremendous implications for basic biology and for public health and policy. Indeed, there is mounting evidence from worms to mammals, including humans, that parental environment can influence phenotypes in future generations. However, the mechanism of such transgenerational inheritance—sometimes referred to as inheritance of acquired traits, or Lamarckian Inheritance—remains elusive. The inheritance of acquired traits was previously discredited, as there was no known mechanism for the environment to alter the genetic material (DNA) transmitted from parents to offspring. With advances in the field of epigenetics, inheritance that is not based on DNA sequence, there is a resurgent interest in transgenerational inheritance. As epigenetic marks can be modulated by environmental conditions, intergenerational inheritance is potentially mediated via alterations to the gamete “epigenome”. We are interested in studying how our environmental conditions modulate specific epigenetic marks in germ cells and how those marks influence the development of offspring. We are using a unique combination of genomic, molecular, cellular, and reproductive approaches to address this question.

Latest news

Our latest study on epididymis and vas deferens single-cell sequencing with the Rando lab is now on published in Elife

July 2020: May passed her qualifying exam. Congrats May!

June 2020: Joshua was selected to be supported by the departmental NIH T32 grant. Well deserved. Congrats!

May 2020: Upasna was awarded a Searle Scholars award!

May 2020: May gave a great talk at the UCSC Stem Cell Club.

April 2020: Nigina got into NIH PREP program at UIC. Congrats!

March 2020: Joshua Shaffer joins the lab as a Ph.D. student. Welcome, Josh!

Upasna discusses the role of RNA in epigenetic inheritance in this Finding Genius podcast

Our latest study on Single-cell epididymis sequencing with the Rando lab is now on Biorxiv 

Jan 2020: Upasna gave a talk at the Keystone Noncoding RNA meeting in Whistler CA

Nov 2019: Elvira Antonia joins the lab as a PREP scholar

Nov 2019: Geetika Kharkwal joins the lab as a Research Associate Specialist

Nov 2019: Josh starts his second rotation in our lab. Welcome, Josh!

Our review article is out in Frontiers

Upasna received NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. The lab is now funded by NIH!

September 2019: Sarah and Tiffany start their first rotation in the Sharma Lab. Welcome!

September 2019: Sydney received ABRCMS student travel award. Congrats Sydney!

September 2019: May presented a poster at the PBSE Research Conference

August 2019: Upasna gave a talk at Epigenetic Inheritance Symposium in Zurich, Switzerland.

August 2019: Sydney presented a poster at the 10th Annual Physical and Biological Sciences Summer Research Symposium.

July 2019: Upasna gave a talk at GRC: Epigenetic Mechanisms Across Scales: From Molecules to Environment and Evolution

Summer 2019: Sydney, Arisbeth, and Ava join the lab.

The lab gets funding from the UCSC COR. Thanks!

Spring 2019: May joins the lab as a graduate student! Welcome, May!

Undergraduate students, Alex, and Brandon join the lab.

Nov 2018: Sharma lab opens at UCSC!

Follow our research

Please follow this link to find the lab’s publications in the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed database.

Join the lab!

We are looking for enthusiastic and talented graduate students, postdocs, and research associates to join our team. Please send your CV and contact information of three references as a single pdf file to