News and Publications


Epidemiology postdoc Dr. Lucas Salas’ research was featured on the cover of the journal Epigenetics. Dr. Salas, who is in Brock Christensen’s lab, and his co-authors studied global DNA methylation dysregulation patterns across cancer types, showing a higher impact in CpG-poor areas of the genome. This work enhances scientific understanding of the impact of epigenetic changes across cancer types.


Center investigator Brock Christensen has received a new R01 to study biomarkers of bladder cancer. The grant proposes to leverage an existing population-based study of bladder cancer that includes a range of patient age groups, has several years of follow up, includes patient treatment and outcome data, as well as matched tumor samples. The project aims to advance towards improved risk projection in newly diagnosed patients by helping to develop a novel and flexible immune monitoring toolkit that can inform clinical decision-making.
NIH Reporter

geisel_vertical_blk_1New research from Dr. Brock Christensen’s lab identified CpG sites that demonstrated significant associations with subject age in normal breast tissue. This study suggests that regions in the genome where DNA methylation changes occur with age are particularly sensitive to disruption in cancer.

Science Daily
Breast Cancer Research

geisel_vertical_blk_1Drs. Juliette Madan and Anne Hoen’s publication in JAMA Pediatrics (March 2016 issue) on delivery mode and the microbiome, “Association of Cesarean Delivery and Formula Supplementation with the Intestinal Microbiome of 6-Week-Old Infants” received considerable media attention.

JAMA Pediatrics
NPR Science Friday Interview

Huffington Post

Juliette MadanDr. Juliette Madan was featured as an expert on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered in February 2016, speaking to vaginal microbiome transfer as studied by peers at NYU.

NPR All Things Considered


Dr. Brock Christensen published a paper in Nature Communications identifying the role of two DNA modifications, 5-methylcytosine (5mC) and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC), in a set of 30 glioblastomas, and their relationship with patient survival. “An intense interest has emerged in detailing the functional role of distinct DNA modifications in both healthy and disease tissues,” said Christensen. “Here, we uncovered that specific DNA 5mC and 5hmC patterns are disrupted in GBM and uniquely characterize the molecular switches of the genome known as ‘enhancers.’ Importantly, we discovered that 5hmC signatures had a particularly strong association with patient survival.”

Click here for the AAAS press release
Click here for the full article


geisel shield
The Center is pleased to fund three new Pilot Studies to advance Molecular Epidemiology at Dartmouth and beyond:
Dr. Elizabeth Barry: “Effects of obesity on pathways driving early colorectal carcinogenesis”
Dr. Jennifer Doherty: “Methylation subtypes of ovarian cancer in African American women”
Dr. Carmen Marsit: “Nested case-control study of epigenetic markers of early-life wheeze”

Tracy Punshon Dr. Punshon was awarded experimental beam time at the Bionanoprobe (beamline 21-ID-D) at the Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL. Dr. Tracy Punshon investigates placental arsenic concentrations in relation to both maternal and infant biomarkers of exposure in a new study published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology.

Click Here for the Manuscript
Click here for US News coverage

Dr. Punshon has since published several manuscripts on the human placenta.

Click here for Link to Manuscript in J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol
Click here for Link to Manuscript in Anal Bioanal Chem
Click here for Link to Manuscript in Environ Sci Technol


Exciting research emerging from the Christensen lab was recently published on DNA methylation in ductal carcinoma in situ related with future development of invasive breast cancer in Clinical Epigenetics.Click here for the Manuscript.

Dr. Christensen received a Young Investigator Travel Award to attend the 2016 NISBRE meeting in Washington, DC where he will present on his COBRE research.

Saeed Dr. Saeed Hassanpour, assistant professor of data science with a secondary appointment in epidemiology was recruited to Dartmouth and the Center for Molecular Epidemiology in 2015. Dr. Hassanpour is an expert in text mining and big data analytics.

Click here for Data Science Press Release

geisel shield New Department of Epidemiology
We are excited to announce that the Dartmouth Board of Trustees approved the new academic Department of Epidemiology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. COBRE Center for Molecular Epidemiology Director, Dr. Margaret Karagas, will lead this new department. Click here to read more. For information on faculty positions within the Department of Epidemiology and Center for Molecular Epidemiology, please visit the Department website.


Dr. Brock Christensen was featured an AAAS press release on “Linking Risk Factors and Disease Origins in Breast Cancer,” and he contributed to the NHDES Report Examining Health Impacts of Arsenic in Drinking Water from Private Wells in NH, October 2014.

Click here for the AAAS press release
Click here for the NHDES release

Selected Publications

1. Koestler DC, Usset JL, Christensen BC, Marsit CJ, Karagas MR, Kelsey KT, Wiencke JK. DNA methylation-derived neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio: an epigenetic tool to explore cancer inflammation and outcomes. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2016 Dec 13. pii: cebp.0461.2016. PMID: 27965295

2. Johnson KC, Houseman EA, King JE, von Herrmann KM, Fadul CE, Christensen BC. 5-Hydroxymethylcytosine localizes to enhancer elements and is associated with survival in glioblastoma patients. Nat Commun. 2016 Nov 25;7:13177. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13177. PMID: 27886174 PMCID: PMC5133638.

3. Rees JR, Mott LA, Barry EL, Baron JA, Bostick RM, Figueiredo JC, Bresalier RS, Robertson DJ, Peacock JL. Lifestyle and Other Factors Explain One-Half of the Variability in the Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Response to Cholecalciferol Supplementation in Healthy Adults. J Nutr. 2016 Nov;146(11):2312-2324. PMID: 27683872 PMCID: PMC5086794.

4. Houseman EA, Johnson KC, Christensen BC. OxyBS: estimation of 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine from tandem-treated oxidative bisulfite and bisulfite DNA. Bioinformatics. 2016 Aug 15;32(16):2505-7. PMID: 27153596 PMCID: PMC4978924

5. Fried D, Rhyu J, Odata KB, Blunt HB, Karagas MR, Gilbert-Diamond D, Maternal and cord blood vitamin D status and childhood infection and allergic disease: a systematic review. Nutrition Reviews. 2016 Apr 15. pii: nuv108. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 27083486

6. O’Sullivan DE, Johnson KC, Skinner L, Koestler DC, Christensen BC. Epigenetic and genetic burden measures are associated with tumor characteristics in invasive breast carcinoma. Epigenetics. 2016 May 3;11(5):344-53. PMID: 27070496 PMCID: PMC4889287

7. Koestler DC, Jones MJ, Usset J, Christensen BC, Butler RA, Kobor MS, Wiencke JK, Kelsey KT. Improving cell mixture deconvolution by identifying optimal DNA methylation libraries (IDOL). BMC Bioinformatics. 2016 Mar 8;17(1):120. doi: 10.1186/s12859-016-0943-7. PMCID: PMC4782368

8. Gilbert-Diamond D, Emond J, Korrick S, Baker ER, Karagas MR. Relation between in utero arsenic exposure and birth outcomes in a cohort of mothers and their newborns from New Hampshire. Environ Health Perspect. 2016 March 8.

9. Madan, JC. Neonatal Gastrointestinal and Respiratory Microbiome in Cystic Fibrosis: Potential Interactions and Implications for Systematic Health. Clin Ther. 2016 Mar 10. pii: S0149-2918(16)30060-1. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2016.02.008. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 26973296

10. Chernikova D, Koestler D, Hoen AG, Housman ML,Hibberd P, Moore JH, Morrison HG, Sogin ML, Zain-Ul-Abideen M, Madan JC. Fetal exposures and perinatal influences on the stool microbiota of premature infants. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2016; 29(1):99-105.

11. Madan JC, Hoen AG, Lundgren SN, Farzan SF, Cottingham KL, Morrison HG, Sogin ML, Li H, Moore JH, Karagas MR. Association of Cesarean Delivery and Formula Supplementation with the Intestinal Microbiome of 6-Week-Old Infants. JAMA Pediatr. 2016 Jan 11:1-8.

12. Emond JA, Bernhardt AM, Gilbert-Diamond D, Li Z, Sargent JD. Commercial Television Exposure, Fast Food Toy Collecting, and Family Visits to Fast Food Restaurants among Families Living in Rural Communities. J Pediatr. 2016 Jan; 158-163.e1.

13. De R, Verma SS, Drenos F, Holzinger ER, Holmes MV, Hall MA, Crosslin DR, Carrell DS, Hakonarson H, Jarvik G, Larson E, Pacheco JA, Rasmussen-Torvik LJ, Moore CB, Asselbergs FW, Moore JH, Ritchie MD, Keating BJ, Gilbert-Diamond D. Identifying gene-gene interactions that are highly associated with Body Mass Index using Quantitative Multifactor Dimensionality Reduction (QMDR). BioData Min. 2015 Dec 14;8:41.

14. De R, Hu T, Moore JH, Gilbert-Diamond D. Characterizing gene-gene interactions in a statistical epistasis network of twelve candidate genes for obesity. BioData Min. 2015 Dec 29;8:45.

15. Emond, J, Smith, M, Mathur, S, Sargent JD, Gilbert-Diamond, D. Children’s Food and Beverage Promotion on Television to Parents. Pediatrics. 2015 Dec;136(6):1095-102.

16. Punshon T, Davis MA, Marsit CJ, Theiler SK, Baker ER, Jackson BP, Conway DC, Karagas MR. Placental arsenic concentrations in relation to both maternal and infant biomarkers of exposure in a US cohort. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2015 Nov-Dec;25(6):599-603.

17. Carignan C, Karagas MR, Punshon T, Gilbert-Diamond, D and Cottingham, K. Contribution of breast milk and formula to arsenic exposure during the first year of life in a US prospective cohort. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2015 Nov 4.

18. Punshon T, Chen S, Finney L, Howard L, Jackson BP, Karagas MR, Ornvold K. High-resolution elemental mapping of human placental chorionic villi using synchrotron X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2015 Sep;407(22):66839-50.

19. Johnson KC, Koestler DC, Fleischer T, Chen P, Jenson EG, Marotti JD, Onega T, Kristensen VN, Christensen BC. DNA methylation in ductal carcinoma in situ related with future development of invasive breast cancer. Clin Epigenetics. 2015 Jul 25;7(1):75.

20. Hoen AG, Li J, Moulton LA, O’Toole GA, Housman ML, Koestler D, Guill MF, Moore JH, Hibberd PL, Morrison H, Sogin M, Karagas M, Madan J. Associations between Gut Microbial Colonization in Early Life and Respiratory Outcomes in Cystic Fibrosis. J Pediatr. 2015 Jul;167(1):138-147.e3.

21. Carignan CC, Cottingham KL, Jackson BP, Farzan SF, Gandolfi AJ, Punshon T, Folt CL, Karagas MR. Estimated Exposure to Arsenic in Breastfed and Formula-Fed Infants in a United States Cohort. Environ Health Perspect. 2015 May; 123(5):500-6.

22. Beaulieu-Jones BR, O’Brien DM, Hopkins SE, Moore JH, Boyer BB, Gilbert-Diamond D. Sex, Adiposity, and Hypertension Status Modify the Inverse Effect of Marine Food Intake on Blood Pressure in Alaska Native (Yup’ik) People. J Nutr. 2015 May;145(5):931-8.

23. Shi X, Ayotte JD, Onda A, Miller S, Rees J, Gilbert-Diamond D, Onega T, Gui, J, Karagas M, Moeschler J. Geospatial Association between Low Birth Weight and Arsenic in Groundwater in New Hampshire, USA. Environ Geochem Health. 2015 Apr;37(2): 333-51.

24. Davis MA, Higgins J, Li Z, Gilbert-Diamond D, Baker ER, Das A, Karagas MR. Preliminary analysis of in utero low-level arsenic exposure and fetal growth using biometric measurements extracted from fetal ultrasound reports. Environ Health. 2015 Mar 30;14:12.

25. Jackson B, Punshon T. Recent Advances in the Measurement of Arsenic, Cadmium, and Mercury in Rice and Other Foods. Curr Environ Health Rep. 2015 Mar 1;2(1):15-24.

26. Emond JA, Sargent JD, Gilbert-Diamond D. Patterns of energy drink advertising over US television networks. J Nutr Educ behav. 2015 Mar-Apr;47(2):120-6.

27. Bernhardt AM, Wilking C, Gilbert-Diamond D, Emond JA, Sargent JD. Children’s Recall of Fast Food Television Advertising – Testing the Adequacy of Food Marketing Regulation. PLoS One. 2015 Mar 4;10(3): e0119300.

28. Lansigan RK, Emond JA, Gilbert-Diamond D. Understanding eating in the absence of hunger among young children: a systematic review of existing studies. Appetite. 2015 Feb;85:36-47.

29. Gossai A, Lesseur C, Farzan S, Marsit C, Karagas MR, Gilbert-Diamond D. Association between maternal urinary arsenic species and infant cord blood leptin levels in a New Hampshire Pregnancy Cohort. Environ Res. 2015 Jan;136:180-6.

30. Emond JA, Gilbert-Diamond D, Tanski S, Sargent JD. Energy drink consumption and the risk of alcohol use disorder among a national sample of adolescents and young adults. J Pediatr. 2014 Dec;165(6):1194-200.

31. Davis MA, Li Z, Gilbert-Diamond D, Mackenzie TA, Cottingham KL, Jackson BP, Lee JS, Baker ER, Marsit CJ, Karagas MR. Infant toenails as a biomarker of in utero arsenic exposure. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2014 Sept-Oct;24(5):467-73.

32. De R, Verma SS, Drenos F, Holmes M, Asselbergs F, Moore JH, Keating B, Ritchie M, Gilbert-Diamond D. Dissecting the obesity disease landscape: identifying gene-gene interactions that are associated with Body Mass Index. Systems Biology (ISB) 2014 Oct. Pg. 124-131. 14823457.

33. Davis MA, Gilbert-Diamond D, Karagas MR, Li Z, Moore JH, Williams SM, Frost HR. A Dietary-Wide Association Study (DWAS) of environmental Metal Exposure in US Children and Adults. PLoS One. 2014 Sep 8;9(9):e104768.

34. Fleischer T, Frigessi A, Johnson KC, Edvardsen H, Touleimat N, Klajic J, Riis M, Haakensen V, Wärnberg F, Naume B, Helland A, Børresen-Dale AL, Tost J, Christensen BC, Kristensen VN. Genome-wide DNA methylation profiles in progression to in situ and invasive carcinoma of the breast with impact on gene transcription and prognosis. Genome Biol. 2014 Aug;15(8):435.

35. Hermand V, Julio E, Dorlhac de Borne F, Punshon T, Ricachenevsky FK, Bellec A, Gosti F, Berthomieu P. Inactivation of two newly identified tobacco heavy metal ATPases leads to reduced Zn and Cd accumulation in shoots and reduced pollen germination. Metallomics. 2014 Aug;6(8):1427-40.

36. Karagas MR, Zens MS, Li Z, Stukel TA, Perry AE, Gilbert-Diamond D, Sayarath V, Stephenson RS, Nelson HH, Spencer SK. Early-onset basal cell carcinoma and indoor tanning: a population-based study. Pediatrics. 2014 Jul;134(1):e4-12.

37. Sverrisson EF, Zens MS, Fei DL, Andrews A, Schned A, Robbins D, Kelsey KT, Li H, DiRenzo J, Karagas MR, Seigne JD. Clinicopathological correlates of Gli1 expression in a population-based cohort of patients with newly diagnosed bladder cancer. Urol Oncol. 2014 Jul;32(5):539-45.

38. Gilbert-Diamond D, Li Z, Adachi-Mejia AM, McClure AC, Sargent JD. Association of a Television in the Bedroom With Increased Adiposity Gain in a Nationally Representative Sample of Children and Adolescents. JAMA Pediatr. 2014 May;168(5):427-34.

39. Zhai Z, Gayomba SR, Jung HI, Vimalakumari NK, Piñeros M, Craft E, Rutzke MA, Danku J, Lahner B, Punshon T, Guerinot ML, Salt DE, Kochian LV, Vatamaniuk OK. OPT3 Is a Phloem-Specific Iron Transporter That Is Essential for Systemic Iron Signaling and Redistribution of Iron and Cadmium in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 2014 May 27;26(5):2249-2264.

40. Ung M, Ma X, Johnson KC, Christensen BC, Cheng C. Effect of estrogen receptor alpha binding on functional DNA methylation in breast cancer. Epigenetics. 2014 Apr 1;9(4):523-32.

41. Selvakumar P, Owens TA, David JM, Thomas GV, Petrelli NJ, Christensen BC, Lakshmikuttyamma A, Rajasekaran AK. Epigenetic silencing of Na,K-ATPase B1 subunit gene ATP1B1 by methylation in clear renal cell carcinoma. Epigenetics. 2014 Apr 1;9(4):579-86

42. Johnson KC, Koestler DC, Cheng C, Christensen BC. Age-related DNA methylation in normal breast tissue and its relationship with invasive breast tumor methylation. Epigenetics. 2014 Feb;9(2):268-75.

43. Punshon T, Tappero R, Ricachenevsky FK, Hirschi K, Nakata PA. Contrasting calcium localization and speciation in leaves of the Medicago truncatula mutant cod5 analyzed via synchrotron X-ray techniques. Plant J. 2013 Nov;76(4):627-33.

44. Punshon T, Ricachenevsky FK, Hindt MN, Socha AL, Zuber H. Methodological approaches for using synchrotron X-ray fluorescence (SXRF) imaging as a tool in ionomics: examples from Arabidopsis thaliana. Metallomics. 2013 Sep;5(9):1133-45.

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