Jason Brant, Ph.D., is a research assistant professor in the department of biostatistics in the UF College of Public Health & Health Professions. He is a member of the Cancer Center’s Mechanisms of Oncogenesis research program. His research interests are focused on the role of DNA methylation and chromatin structure in regulating gene expression and how perturbations in the epigenome can result in disease onset and progression.
Dr. Brant received his doctorate degree from the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Florida under the mentorship of Dr. Thomas P. Yang.
At the Cancer Center, he works to provide computational and bioinformatics support for Cancer Center members, and he is developing new technologies for assaying chromatin structure.
What are your current research interests?
My research interests are in the field of epigenetics. I am focused on how environmental insults can have long-lasting effects on our gene expression and how these changes can predispose people to long-term health consequences and can even be passed on to future generations. I am currently working on a project that studies the epigenetic changes that occur after exertional heat stroke. I am also working on another study that looks at how epigenetic changes that occur after neonatal exposure to general anesthetics can be transmitted to offspring. In addition to these projects, I also work as unit leader for bioinformatics for the UF Health Cancer Center’s Biostatistics and Computational Biology Shared Resource, where I provide bioinformatics analyses for Cancer Center member’s research projects.
How did you end up going into medicine and/or why did you decide on your specialty?
My career path is a bit unusual. After high school I attended culinary school and worked for several years as a chef. It wasn’t until my late 20s that I decided to try something new. I just didn’t know what that would be. I attended a community college in upstate New York and took various classes where I had an absolutely amazing teacher who helped me fall in love with biology. After I received my A.S. in environmental science, I pursued a bachelor’s degree in plant molecular biology, which really began to focus my interests. After graduating, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in molecular biology, but in the filed of medicine as I felt that I wanted to help people more.
Why did you decide to focus on cancer?
In many ways, cancer biology captures all my research interests, as environmental exposures and epigenetics play major roles in cancer. And because of the prevalence of cancer incidences, researching cancer provides a way to help a tremendous number of people.
What excites you about your work? What is exciting to you about your field right now?
I am excited about the rapid advances in technology that are happening now. As new DNA sequencing technologies come online, researchers are able to ask new questions that will help to better understand biological processes. As a bioinformatician, I am excited about the new computational tools and approaches that are being developed.
“As a bioinformatician, I am excited about the new computational tools and approaches that are being developed.”Jason Brant, Ph.D.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with family, friends and my three cats. I also raise chickens and do work on my property, such as getting an area all prepared for when I eventually decide I need to get miniature goats.