Rene Cortese, PhD


Rene Cortese, PhD, studies epigenetics of complex diseases to detect and understand how complex diseases develop, progress, are inherited, and can be treated. His current research focuses on the functional study of epigenetic phenomena in genome regulation and the epigenetic mechanisms involved in children's and women's health.

Dr. Cortese’s doctoral research studied epigenetic profiles modulating phenotypes changes in tissue-specific DNA methylation profiles throughout the evolution, during embryonic development and in oncogenic and non-oncogenic diseases. As a post-doctoral fellow, he developed a method for genome-wide epigenetic profiling of tumor circulating DNA in plasma samples from cancer patients.

As a Research Associate (Assistant Professor) at the University of Chicago, Dr. Cortese conducted several research projects toward the study of epigenetic phenomena in complex pediatric diseases, with particular emphasis in the cardiovascular and metabolic consequences of sleep disorders.

Prior to joining the University of Missouri School of Medicine, Dr. Cortese served as Director of Product Development at MDxHealth, a molecular diagnostics company focused on urology oncology. He also worked as a program manager at Seven Bridges Genomics, leading the company’s efforts to develop and implement an analytical environment tailored to circulating DNA analysis using cloud computing.



Academic Information

Research Assistant Professor


1 Hospital Dr
Columbia, MO 65212
United States

P. 573-884-4081

Research Interests

  • Multi-Omics studies on phenotype modulation in children’s and women’s health.
  • Epigenetic mechanisms involved in the developmental origin of diseases.
  • Epigenomics of sleep disorders.
  • Epigenome profiling in circulating DNA in bodily fluids.

Education & Training


The Krembil Family Epigenetics Laboratory. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Toronto, Canada.


University of Bonn, Germany


University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Awards & Honors

  • 1994 — Best Achiever 1994. Junior Achievement Foundation. Argentina
  • 2008 — Magna cum Lauda, University of Bonn. Germany
  • 2014 — The George M. Eisenberg Foundation for Charities Excellence Award. Department of Pediatrics. The University of Chicago.
  • 2015 — Honorary Citizen. City of Lujan, Buenos Aires, Argentina 

In the News



Trzepizur W, Cortese R, Gozal D. Murine models of sleep apnea: functional implications of altered macrophage polarity and epigenetic modifications in adipose and vascular tissues. Metabolism. 2018 Jul;84:44-55. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2017.11.008. Epub 2017 Nov 16. Review. PubMed PMID: 29154950; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5955762


Cortese R, Gileles-Hillel A, Khalyfa A, Almendros I, Akbarpour M, Khalyfa AA, Qiao Z, Garcia T, Andrade J, Gozal D. Aorta macrophage inflammatory and epigenetic changes in a murine model of obstructive sleep apnea: Potential role of CD36. Sci Rep. 2017 Feb 27;7:43648. doi: 10.1038/srep43648. PubMed PMID: 28240319; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5327416.

Khalyfa A, Cortese R, Qiao Z, Ye H, Bao R, Andrade J, Gozal D. Late gestational intermittent hypoxia induces metabolic and epigenetic changes in male adult offspring mice. J Physiol. 2017 Apr 15;595(8):2551-2568. doi: 10.1113/JP273570. Epub 2017 Feb 22. PubMed PMID: 28090638; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5390895.

Grossman RL, … Cortese R, … Leiman LC. Collaborating to Compete: Blood Profiling Atlas in Cancer (BloodPAC) Consortium. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2017 May;101(5):589-592. doi: 10.1002/cpt.666. Epub 2017 Apr 12. Review. PubMed PMID: 28187516; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5525192.

Gozal D, Gileles-Hillel A, Cortese R, Li Y, Almendros I, Qiao Z, Khalyfa AA, Andrade J, Khalyfa A. Visceral White Adipose Tissue after Chronic Intermittent and Sustained Hypoxia in Mice. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2017 Apr;56(4):477-487. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2016-0243OC. PubMed PMID: 28107636.


Cortese R, Zhang C, Bao R, Andrade J, Khalyfa A, Mokhlesi B, Gozal D. DNA Methylation Profiling of Blood Monocytes in Patients With Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome: Effect of Positive Airway Pressure Treatment. Chest. 2016 Jul;150(1):91-101. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2016.02.648. Epub 2016 Feb 26. PubMed PMID: 26923628; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6026248.

Cortese R, Lu L, Yu Y, Ruden D, Claud EC. Epigenome-Microbiome crosstalk: A potential new paradigm influencing neonatal susceptibility to disease. Epigenetics. 2016 Mar 3;11(3):205-15. doi: 10.1080/15592294.2016.1155011. Epub 2016 Feb 24. PubMed PMID: 26909656; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4854540.

Oh G, Ebrahimi S, Wang SC, Cortese R, Kaminsky ZA, Gottesman II, Burke JR, Plassman BL, Petronis A. Epigenetic assimilation in the aging human brain. Genome Biol. 2016 Apr 28;17:76. doi: 10.1186/s13059-016-0946-8. PubMed PMID: 27122015; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4848814.


Cortese R, Almendros I, Wang Y, Gozal D. Tumor circulating DNA profiling in xenografted mice exposed to intermittent hypoxia. Oncotarget. 2015 Jan 1;6(1):556-69. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.2785. PubMed PMID: 25415227; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4381615.

Cortese R, Khalyfa A, Bao R, Andrade J, Gozal D. Epigenomic profiling in visceral white adipose tissue of offspring of mice exposed to late gestational sleep fragmentation. Int J Obes (Lond). 2015 Jul;39(7):1135-42. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2015.38. Epub 2015 Mar 24. PubMed PMID: 25801690; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4496299.

Cortese R, Almendros I, Wang Y, Gozal D. Microarray-based analysis of plasma cirDNA epigenetic modification profiling in xenografted mice exposed to intermittent hypoxia. Genom Data. 2015 Sep;5:17-20. doi: 10.1016/j.gdata.2015.05.004. eCollection 2015 Sep. PubMed PMID: 26484214; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4583627.

Chu A, Gozal D, Cortese R, Wang Y. Cardiovascular dysfunction in adult mice following postnatal intermittent hypoxia. Pediatr Res. 2015 Mar;77(3):425-33. doi: 10.1038/pr.2014.197. Epub 2014 Dec 17. PubMed PMID: 25518007.

Complete list of publications