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Michael B. Sporn, M.D.

Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology
Professor of Medicine

Pharmacology & Toxicology

Harvard University, AB 1952
U. Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry, MD 1959

Norris Cotton Cancer Center
Pharmacology and Toxicology Graduate Program
Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine


Contact Information:

7650 Remsen
Dept. of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Geisel School of Medicine
Hanover NH 03755

Office: Remsen 524A
Phone: 603-650-6557
Fax: 603-650-1129
Email: michael.sporn@dartmouth.edu

Assistant: Caitlin Kivler
Asst. Phone: 603-650-6559
Asst. Email: Caitlin.Kivler@Dartmouth.edu

Professional Interests:

Chemoprevention of cancer, especially by retinoids, rexinoids, and other ligands of the steroid receptor superfamily; peptide growth factors, especially transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) and its mechanism of action; development of new natural products for prevention of cancer. Synthetic triterpenoids and rexinoids (RXR ligand) as anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and anti-carcinogenic agents.

Dr. Sporn completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard College, majoring in biology, in 1952. He received his M.D. at the University of Rochester in 1959. Dr. Sporn then began his research career at the National Institutes of Health, where, in 1970, he was made the Head of the Lung Cancer Unit. In 1978 he became Chief of the Laboratory of Chemoprevention, where he remained until 1995, when he came to Dartmouth Medical School as the Oscar M. Cohn '34 Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine.

Triterpenoids of an ursane or oleanane structure are widely distributed in nature, occurring in hundreds of plants all over the world. Many such structures have interesting biological, pharmacological, or medicinal activities, similar to those of retinoids and steroids, including inhibition of carcinogenesis and induction of differentiation in leukemia or teratocarcinoma cells. Ursanes and oleananes belong to a larger family of related terpenoids, many of which are ligands for the steroid receptor superfamily, such as retinoids and classical steroids.

In collaboration with Professor Gordon Gribble in the Department of Chemistry, we are studying ursanes and oleananes that are more polar than the common parent substances, ursolic acid and oleanolic acid. The goal of these studies is to understand the mechanism of action of triterpenoids, and also to develop new agents for prevention of cancer and other degenerative diseases. One of the new synthetic triterpenoids that has been made for the first time in the Department of Chemistry is now in clinical trials for the treatment of advanced diabetic kidney disease. Karen Liby, Associate Professor of Pharmacology, is a key collaborator in the Sporn Lab

Selected Publications:


Onyango EO, Fu L, Cao M, Liby KT, Sporn MB, Gribble GW
Synthesis and biological evaluation of amino acid methyl ester conjugates of 2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oic acid against the production of nitric oxide (NO).
Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2014 Jan 15; 24(2):532-4
PMID: 24388806

Liu M, Reddy NM, Higbee EM, Potteti HR, Noel S, Racusen L, Kensler TW, Sporn MB, Reddy SP, Rabb H
The Nrf2 triterpenoid activator, CDDO-imidazolide, protects kidneys from ischemia-reperfusion injury in mice.
Kidney Int 2014 Jan; 85(1):134-41
PMID: 24088953

Sporn MB, Liby KT
Is lycopene an effective agent for preventing prostate cancer?
Cancer Prev Res (Phila) 2013 May; 6(5):384-6
PMID: 23483003

Balboni AL, Hutchinson JA, DeCastro AJ, Cherukuri P, Liby K, Sporn MB, Schwartz GN, Wells WA, Sempere LF, Yu PB, DiRenzo J
ΔNp63α-mediated activation of bone morphogenetic protein signaling governs stem cell activity and plasticity in normal and malignant mammary epithelial cells.
Cancer Res 2013 Jan 15; 73(2):1020-30
PMID: 23243027

Tran K, Risingsong R, Royce DB, Williams CR, Sporn MB, Pioli PA, Gediya LK, Njar VC, Liby KT
The combination of the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat and synthetic triterpenoids reduces tumorigenesis in mouse models of cancer.
Carcinogenesis 2013 Jan; 34(1):199-210
PMID: 23042302

Liby KT, Sporn MB
Synthetic oleanane triterpenoids: multifunctional drugs with a broad range of applications for prevention and treatment of chronic disease.
Pharmacol Rev 2012 Oct; 64(4):972-1003
PMID: 22966038

Sporn MB, Liby KT
NRF2 and cancer: the good, the bad and the importance of context.
Nat Rev Cancer 2012 Jul 19; 12(8):564-71
PMID: 22810811

Tran K, Risingsong R, Royce D, Williams CR, Sporn MB, Liby K
The synthetic triterpenoid CDDO-methyl ester delays estrogen receptor-negative mammary carcinogenesis in polyoma middle T mice.
Cancer Prev Res (Phila) 2012 May; 5(5):726-34
PMID: 22401982

Kim EH, Deng C, Sporn MB, Royce DB, Risingsong R, Williams CR, Liby KT
CDDO-methyl ester delays breast cancer development in BRCA1-mutated mice.
Cancer Prev Res (Phila) 2012 Jan; 5(1):89-97
PMID: 21933912

Yore MM, Kettenbach AN, Sporn MB, Gerber SA, Liby KT
Proteomic analysis shows synthetic oleanane triterpenoid binds to mTOR.
PLoS One 2011; 6(7):e22862
PMID: 21818401