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Michael D. Cole, PhD

Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology
Professor of Genetics

Pharmacology & Toxicology

The Johns Hopkins University, PhD 1978
Ohio Northern University, BA 1973

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


Contact Information:

Rubin 633; HB7936
One Medical Center Drive
Dartmouth Medical School
Lebanon NH 03756

Office: Rubin 633
Phone: 603-653-9975
Fax: 603-653-9952
Email: michael.cole@dartmouth.edu

Assistant: Laboratory Contact
Asst. Phone: 603-653-9973

Professional Interests:

Studies of the genetic events involved in the induction of cancer provide an opportunity to define the molecular basis of the disease and to study the regulation and function of important eukaryotic genes that control cell proliferation. The c-myc gene encodes a transcription factor that is critical for progression through the cell cycle, and mutations that misregulate c-myc are frequently found in human and animal cancers. Our central research interest is to define the cellular target genes through which c-myc and other oncogenic transcription factors function and also the nuclear factors that mediate target gene and c-myc regulation.

A major area of interest is to identify the nuclear cofactors that facilitate Myc’s ability to activate and repress target genes. Past studies showed that Myc recruits histone acetylation complexes to target sites, and more recent studies show that Myc also modulates transcriptional activity by increasing phosphorylation of the RNA polymerase II carboxy-terminal domain. Most recently, we identified a novel E3 ligase that binds directly to Myc to promote Myc protein degradation. Downregulation of this E3 ligase is common in most cancer cells, leading to higher levels of Myc which enhance growth rates. Ongoing studies are aimed at understanding the mechanism of Myc-mediated transcriptional repression which may involve enhanced repressive histone modifications.

A second major area of study involves distal regulatory elements that control the expression of c-myc and other genes relevant to cancer. We recently showed that an enhancer 330 kb upstream of the c-myc gene is an important regulator of c-myc expression in colon cancer cells and that this element functions through a large intrachromosomal loop that links it directly to the c-myc promoter. Furthermore, this distal element contains a polymorphism among humans that changes the predisposition to colon and prostate cancer.

Courses Taught:

PEMM 101/102 Scientific Basis of Disease (Course Director)
PEMM 126 Cancer Biology

Selected Publications:


Strategically targeting MYC in cancer.
Posternak V, Cole MD
F1000Res. 2016;5 pii: F1000 Faculty Rev-408. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.7879.1. Epub 2016 Mar 29.
PMID: 27081479

Ruptured Sinus of Valsalva Aneurysm into the Left Atrium with Multiple Fistulous Communications: A Rare Cause of Heart Failure.
Agrawal Y, Chandrashekhar R, Pratt JW, Cole MD, Kamath S, Kalavakunta JK
Case Rep Cardiol. 2015;2015:627946. doi: 10.1155/2015/627946. Epub 2015 Dec 27.
PMID: 26819782

Retroviruses hijack chromatin loops to drive oncogene expression and highlight the chromatin architecture around proto-oncogenic loci.
Pattison JM, Wright JB, Cole MD
PLoS One. 2015;10(3):e0120256. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0120256. Epub 2015 Mar 23.
PMID: 25799187

MYC association with cancer risk and a new model of MYC-mediated repression.
Cole MD
Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2014 Jul 1;4(7):a014316. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a014316. Epub 2014 Jul 1.
PMID: 24985129

Surgical and procedural skills training at medical school - a national review.
Davis CR, Toll EC, Bates AS, Cole MD, Smith FC
Int J Surg. 2014;12(8):877-82. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2014.05.069. Epub 2014 Jun 5.
PMID: 24909137

Functional genomics annotation of a statistical epistasis network associated with bladder cancer susceptibility.
Hu T, Pan Q, Andrew AS, Langer JM, Cole MD, Tomlinson CR, Karagas MR, Moore JH
BioData Min. 2014 Apr 11;7(1):5. doi: 10.1186/1756-0381-7-5. Epub 2014 Apr 11.
PMID: 24725556

Drug facilitated sexual assault: detection and stability of benzodiazepines in spiked drinks using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.
Gautam L, Sharratt SD, Cole MD
PLoS One. 2014;9(2):e89031. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089031. Epub 2014 Feb 19.
PMID: 24586489

Burkitt's lymphoma-associated c-Myc mutations converge on a dramatically altered target gene response and implicate Nol5a/Nop56 in oncogenesis.
Cowling VH, Turner SA, Cole MD
Oncogene. 2014 Jul 3;33(27):3519-27. doi: 10.1038/onc.2013.338. Epub 2013 Sep 9.
PMID: 24013231

Forensic Analysis of Cathinones.
Gautam L, Shanmuganathan A, Cole MD
Forensic Sci Rev. 2013 Mar;25(1-2):47-64.
PMID: 26226850

Vibration arthrometry: a critical review.
Abbott SC, Cole MD
Crit Rev Biomed Eng. 2013;41(3):223-42.
PMID: 24579645