Epigenetics, Addiction, Memory, Neuroscience, Hippocampus, Cocaine, Opioids


The once controversial idea that parental experiences, such as stress or diet, can shape the physiology and behavior of their offspring via epigenetic mechanisms has become an active area of research. Dr. Mathieu Wimmer studies the influence of drug abuse in fathers (sires) on future generations. His research program combines animal models of drug addiction and memory formation with molecular biology techniques to investigate the impact of paternal drug taking on drug-related behaviors and memory formation in progeny. Dr. Wimmer is also interested in epigenetic remodeling events in the brain that underlie these inherited changes in behavior. Dr. Wimmer received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania under the mentorship of Dr. Ted Abel. His postdoctoral training under the guidance of Dr. Chris Pierce at Penn focused on the transgenerational epigenetics of cocaine addiction. Dr. Wimmer’s research is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Selected Publications

  • Vassoler FM, Wimmer ME (2020) Consequences of paternal opioid exposure on neurophysiology, behavior and health in the next generations. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a040436
  • Ellis AS, Toussaint AB, Knouse MC, Thomas AS, Bongiovanni AR, Mayberry HL, Bhakta S, Peer K, BangasserDA, Wimmer ME(2020) Paternal morphine self-administration produces object recognition memory deficits in female, but not male offspring. Psychopharmacology. 237(4), 1209-1221. PMCID: PMC7124995
  • Goetzl L, Thompson-Felix T, Darbinian N, Merabova N, Merali S, Merali C, Sanserino K, Tatevosian T, Fant B, WimmerME (2019) Novel biomarkers to assess in utero effects of maternal opioid use: First steps toward understanding short- and long-term neurodevelopmental sequelae. Genes Brain and Behavior. Jul;18(6):e12583. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12583. Epub2019 Jun 11
  • Wimmer ME, Fant B, Swinford-Jackson SE, Testino A, Van Nest D, Abel T, Pierce RC (2019) H3.3 barcoding of nucleus accumbens transcriptional activity identifies novel molecular cascades associated with cocaine self-administration in mice. Journal of Neuroscience. 39(27):5247-5254   PMCID: PMC6607753
  • Wimmer ME, Briand LA, Fant B, Guercio LA, Arreola AC, Schmidt HD, Sidoli S, Han Y, Garcia BA, Pierce RC (2017) Paternal cocaine taking elicits epigenetic remodeling and memory deficits in male progeny. Molecular Psychiatry. 22(11):1641-1650, PMCID PMC5568460
  • White SL, Vassoler FM, Schmidt HD, Pierce RC, Wimmer ME (2015) Enhanced anxiety in male offspring of sires that self-administered cocaine. Addiction Biology. 21(4):802-10. PMCID PMC4626434

Courses Taught

  • Neurobiology of Disease
  • Behavioral Epigenetics