The area of research known as Developmental Programming seeks to understand the biochemical mechanisms by which the dynamics of chromatin structure are controlled during development, how environmental exposures or poor nutrition influence these processes, and how epigenetic changes cause birth defects and disease. Faculty in the Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology use a comparative approach to better understand epigenetic mechanisms regulating early embryonic development, the biochemical mechanisms by which chromatin structure is altered during development, how these processes are influenced by environmental exposures, and the capacity of these heritable changes to influence the physiological function of the placenta and cause birth defects.