Meet the Team

The Denu Lab @ Wisconsin Institute for Discovery

The "Histone Code"

The University of Wisconsin - Madison

The Denu Laboratory investigates the mechanism and biological function of reversible protein modifications involved in modulating signal transduction, chromatin dynamics and gene activation.

Created by Cassie Leech with BioRender

The Denu Lab investigates the intersections between metabolism and the epigenome, a complex series of modifications made on top of the genome that regulates gene expression. Cell metabolism includes the many biochemical reactions that create energy and build crucial molecules for the cell. Epigenetics is the study of modifications to the DNA and histone proteins, which package DNA in the nucleus. Merging these two concepts, we study how the daily workings of the cell affect the folding and accessibility of DNA, influencing how our cells and ultimately body responds to changes in diet or lifestyle. Our interdisciplinary approach spans basic biochemistry to big data, using methods ranging from in vitro enzyme assays to high-throughput mass spectrometry. The Denu lab is part of the Microbiome, Epigenetics, and Multi-omics hubs at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, and is involved in many collaborations both on and off campus.

Recent Lab News


  • October 2023 – Cassie gives a lightning talk and poster presentation at the 7th annual Epigenetics Symposium! Thanks to all the student volunteers and Jessica for taking the lead on organizing the Symposium!
  • August 2023 – Dr. Lily Miller successfully defends her PhD research on the catalytic and binding mechanisms of H3K9 and K27 methyltransferases! Way to go Lily and good luck on your next adventure in California!!
  • August 2023 – Spencer joins the Denu lab as a postdoctoral fellow! Big welcome back, Dr. Haws!
  • June 2023 – Jessica‘s abstract is selected for oral and poster presentations at the International Society of Heart Research Conference!
  • June 2023 – John is named recipient of the Katherine Berns Van Donk Steenbock Professor in Nutrition! Congratulations, John!
  • May 2023 – Postdoctoral scholar Pragyan completes her external reviewer PhD defense in Infection Epigenetics from KIIT! Congratulations, Dr. Mishra!!
  • April 2023 – Sara presents her research about binding specificities of PHD zinc finger domains in the H3K36 histone methyltransferase NSD2 at the UW-Madison Undergraduate Symposium. Great job, Sara!
  • April 2023 – Jessica presents her research about how the metabolites from the gut microbiome affect the host brain health at the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Research Day! Way to go, Jess!
  • March 2023 – Cassie presents her findings the role of MAT2A and MAT2B in maintaining loci-specific methylation at the Metabolism Floor Meeting. Great job, Cassie!
  • January 2023 – John heads over to the Hirschey Lab at Duke for a genomics- and fun-filled sabbatical!
  • January 2023 – Postdoctoral scholar Pragyan Mishra joins the lab! Welcome, Pragyan!