Serge McGraw , Ph.D.
    Serge McGraw
    Research Axis
    Fetomaternal and Neonatal Pathologies Axis
    Research Theme
    Fetal development and prematurity
    CHUSJ - Centre de Recherche

    514 345-4931 ext.4268


    • Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine, Université de Montréal (2020)
    • Researcher, CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre (2015)
    • Co-Head, Research Axis - Fetomaternal and Neonatal Pathologies.


    • Postdoctoral fellow in epigenetics. Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre at the Montreal Children's Hospital. Department of Human Genetics, McGill University. Montreal, Canada. 2007-2014
    • PhD in biology of reproduction. Department of Animal Sciences, Laval University, Quebec, Canada. 2002-2007.
    • MSc in biology of reproduction. Department of Animal Sciences, Laval University, Quebec, Canada. 2000-2001.
    • BSc in biochemistry. Laval University, Quebec, Canada. 1997-2000
    • Diploma in health sciences. Moncton University. Nouveau-Brunswick, Canada. 1994-1997

    Research Interests

    Epigenetic dysregulations in developmental and neurodevelopmental disorders.

    Epigenetic modifications are small chemical groups that can be affixed directly to the genome (DNA), or even to the proteins (histones) involved in the structure and compaction of chromatin. These various modifications provide a means by which a gene can be functionally turned on or off at a specific time during cell development, without altering its DNA sequence. During embryonic development, cells divide and develop according to their own program, a program dictated by a profound reorganization of epigenetic modifications. We believe that any impediment occurring during the establishment of this embryonic epigenetic program may accentuate the vulnerability to unfold various developmental and neurodevelopmental disorders.

    Serge McGraw’s research program is focused on studying epigenetic dysregulation in early embryonic development leading to developmental and neurodevelopmental disorders. Specifically, his research is divided into three main areas:

    1) Mechanisms of hereditary epigenetic deregulation in early embryonic development.

    2) Implication of early embryonic epigenetic dysregulation associated with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

    3) Implication of DNMT3A mutations on development and cell specification associated with Tatton-Brown-Rahman syndrome (TBRS).

    Through neurotoxic environmental factors and genetic manipulations, these models will provide normal and perturbed epigenetic contexts to finely dissect the epigenetic dysregulation mechanisms associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. Serge McGraw’s research will significantly deepen our understanding of how early embryonic epigenetic dysregulations of specific brain-related programs may lead to adverse outcomes in children. Understanding the nature of epigenetic dysregulation throughout brain development is crucial if we hope to someday design potent and selective epigenetic treatments for brain disorders.

    Research Topics

    • Developmental Origin of Health and Disease (DOHAD)
    • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
    • Prenatal exposure an environmental insult
    • Tatton-Brown-Rahman Syndrome (TBRS)
    • Epigenetic modifications (DNA methylation and post-translational modifications of histones)
    • Rare epigenetic disorders
    • Embryonic and placental development
    • Embryonic stem cells
    • Induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS)
    • Next-generation sequencing approaches
    • Bioinformatic analyses

    Career Summary

    Serge McGraw obtained his PhD at Laval University (Quebec), where he worked with Dr. Marc-André Sirard on the factors involved in chromatin remodeling in gametes and embryos. Subsequently, he joined the group of Dr. Jacquetta Trasler at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center at the Montreal Children's Hospital where he developed an expertise in developmental biology and in epigenetics. As a postdoctoral fellow, he investigated epigenetic instability associated with epigenetic disruption during embryonic development. His work highlights the importance of the continuous activity of DNMT1, involved in the maintenance of DNA methylation profiles, in the early embryonic days for the future regulation of genes necessary for the nervous system. Dr. McGraw was recruited in 2015 as a researcher at the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre and in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Université de Montréal, where he is currently an associate professor.

    By combining in vitro models of mouse stem cells and patient-derived pluripotent stem cells, as well as in vivo mouse models, with multi-omics and bioinformatics sequencing approaches, his main research aims to understand how disruptions in the embryonic epigenetic program can alter cell fate and lead to abnormal development and neurodevelopmental disorders.


    The Developmental Epigenetics and Neurodevelopment Lab

    Awards and Distinctions

    • Knowledge Transfer Award. Réseau québecois en reproduction (RQR), 2022.
    • ​Chercheur-boursier Junior 2. Fonds de recherche en santé du Québec (FRQS), 2020.
    • Chercheur-boursier Junior 1. Fonds de recherche en santé du Québec (FRQS), 2016.


    • McGRAW S & Kimmins S. Inheritance of epigenetic DNA marks studied in new mouse model. Nature 2023; Mar 21. doi: 10.1038/d41586-023-00708-8
    • Breton-Larrivée M*, Elder E*, Legault LM, Langford-Avelar A, MacFarlane AJ, MCGRAW S. Mitigating the detrimental developmental impact of early fetal alcohol exposure using a maternal methyl donor-enriched diet. FASEB Journal. March 2023; 37:e22829.
    • Legault LM, Doiron K, Breton-Larrivée M, Langford-Avelar A, Lemieux A, Caron M, Jerome-Majewska LA, Sinnett D, McGRAW S. Pre-implantation alcohol exposure induces lasting sex-specific DNA methylation programming errors in the developing forebrain. Clinical Epigenetics. 2021 Aug 23;13(1):164. doi: 10.1186/s13148-021-01151-0.
    • Elder E, McGRAW S. Comprehensive spatiotemporal DNA methylation analysis of mouse tissue and organ progression through fetal development to adulthood. Biol Reprod. 2020 Oct 29;103(5):915-917. doi: 10.1093/biolre/ioaa163.
    • Legault LM, Doiron K, Lemieux A, Caron M, Chan D, Lopes FL, Bourque G, Sinnett D, McGRAW S. Developmental genome-wide DNA methylation asymmetry between mouse placenta and embryo. Epigenetics. 2020:1-16. doi: 10.1080/15592294.2020.1722922
    • Pierre WC, Legault LM, Londono I, McGRAW S*, Lodygensky GA*. Alteration of the brain methylation landscape following postnatal inflammatory injury in rat pups. FASEB Journal. 2020; 34 (1), 432-445 doi: 10.1096/fj.201901461R
    • Breton-Larrivée M, Elder E, McGRAW S. DNA methylation, environmental exposures and early embryo development. Animal Reproduction. 2019; 16(3):465-74. doi: 10.21451/1984-3143-AR2019-0062
    • Legault LM, Chan D, McGRAW S. Rapid Multiplexed Reduced Representation Bisulfite Sequencing Library Prep  (rRRBS). Bio-Protocol. 2019; Vol 9, Feb 20(4): e3171. doi:  10.21769/BioProtoc.3171
    • Legault LM, McGRAW S. Dynamics of DNA methylation reprogramming at the single-cell level in early human embryos. Biology of Reproduction. 2018; 98(5):610-1. doi : 10.1093/biolre/ioy026
    • Legault LM, Bertrand-Lehouillier V, McGRAW S. Pre-implantation alcohol exposure and developmental programming of FASD: an epigenetic perspective. Biochemistry and Cell Biology. 2018; 96(2):117-30. doi: 10.1139/bcb-2017-0141

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