MDI Biological Laboratory
Associate Professor; Director, Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE)

James A. Coffman, Ph.D.

How much does your health, your susceptibility to disease and your rate of aging depend on the environment in which you were raised?

Quite a lot it turns out. In fact, even the environment in which your parents and grandparents were raised can impact your susceptibility to disease. Over the past couple of decades epidemiological studies and research with animal models have revealed that chronic stress, traumatic experiences, or other toxic environmental exposures in early life can have persistent developmental effects that impact how the body responds to stressors later in life, and which can be transmitted epigenetically to subsequent generations. 

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Other Research Activities

In addition to his experimental research, Dr. Coffman is interested in theoretical approaches to the problem of biological development and evolution from the perspective of complex systems, and he has published numerous papers and one book on that subject. He also directs the Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) in Comparative Functional Genomics, a statewide collaborative network of 14 academic and research institutions, led by the MDI Biological Laboratory and funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the NIH. The overarching goal of the Maine INBRE is to strengthen biomedical research and research infrastructure in the state of Maine, by providing biomedical research resources, funding, mentorship and training to undergraduates, post-graduates, and faculty.

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  • Ph.D., Duke University, Zoology, 1990
  • B.A., Carleton College, Biology, 1981