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Genetic disease does not always mean a change in the DNA sequence of the genetic code. Some human genetic diseases can be caused by disrupting the epigenetic code without altering the DNA sequence. The epigenetic code, which includes modifications of DNA and its associated proteins, regulates when and where a gene is switched on or off. Douglas studies how disrupting the epigenetic code leads to alpha thalassaemia myelodysplasia syndrome and X-linked alpha-thalassemia/mental retardation syndrome. He also studies how the epigenetic code regulates the production of globin proteins, which when assembled into haemoglobin, help to carry oxygen around the body.