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Carmen J Marsit, PhD

Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology
Professor of Epidemiology
Co-Director, Program in Cancer Epidemiology, Norris Cotton Cancer Center

Pharmacology & Toxicology

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Ph.D. 2004

Norris Cotton Cancer Center
Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine
Quantitative Biomedical Sciences


Contact Information:

HB 7650
Pharmacology & Toxicology
Hanover NH 03755

Office: Remsen 520
Phone: 603-650-1825
Fax: 603-650-1129
Email: Carmen.J.Marsit@Dartmouth.edu

Professional Interests:

The broad goal of Dr. Marsitís research program is to understand how the environment contributes to health and disease by studying molecular mechanisms that may be responsible. The laboratory's focus is on epigenetic regulation and works to describe the impact the environment has on the human epigenome.
This work is accomplished by taking an interdisciplinary and multi-modal approach to understanding the pathogenesis of human disease, utilizing the power of epidemiology and population-based research to study the effects of the environment on multiple facets of epigenetic regulation while examining mechanistic questions in controlled in-vitro experiments. Dr. Marsitís research has examined environment epigenetic impacts on two distinct, yet highly related biologic processes: carcinogenesis and human development. In those settings, his laboratory examines DNA methylation and miRNA expression as key epigenetic mechanisms of interest.
This research aims to provide a sound scientific basis for the emerging paradigm linking the environment experienced during in utero development to health and disease throughout life.

Studies in the laboratory are aimed at identifying novel biomarkers of cancer risk and prognosis through the examination of epigenetic alterations. The laboratory uses genome-scale tools to examine DNA methylation and miRNA expression in human clinical samples, and through careful analysis, to identify novel markers, which we can then translate into clinical use.

Other studies examine the hypothesis that the intrauterine environment experienced by a developing fetus can influence the epigenome of the infantís placenta. This functional alteration of the placenta can thereby program the health of the infant both at birth and likely well beyond. Some of the earliest phenotypes which can be examined to test this hypothesis are those of neurobehavioral development. Through collaborations at Women and Infant Hospital of Rhode Island, the Childrenís Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center at Dartmouth, and Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, Dr. Marsit and his laboratory are profiling the placental epigenome and identifying relationships between epigenetic mechanisms at work in the placenta and the infantís newborn neurobehavior.

Paramount to meeting the objectives of this research program is creating a collaborative and multidisciplinary team of students, clinicians, epidemiologists, biologists, and statisticians who, by working together, are committed to combining efforts to reach these goals. Such a combined effort and interdisciplinary training is absolutely necessary to accomplish this work, and will certainly open up entirely new avenues for research both here at Dartmouth and beyond.

Rotations and Thesis Projects:

1. Examine how the intrauterine environment during pregnancy alters DNA methylation in infant placenta and cord blood and the downstream consequences of these alterations
2. Identify and expand on novel epigenetic biomarkers for cancer risk and prognosis in bladder and skin cancers.
3. Examine alterations in genomic imprinting in human placenta and its association with environmental exposures, and newborn developmental outcomes.

Grant Information:

R01 MH094609 (Marsit) Epigenetics in Neurodevelopment and Mental Health (NIH/NIMH)

R01 ES022223 (Marsit and Chen) Environment, Imprinting, and Neurodevelopment (NIH/NIEHS)

P01 ES022832 (Karagas, Marsit and Robbins) Childrenís Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center Project 3: Placental Biomarkers of Exposure and Outcome (NIH/NIEHS and US EPA)

Courses Taught:

PEMM 103: Introduction to Biostatistics


Dr. Marsit received his B.S. from Lafayette College in Biochemistry in 2000, and his Ph.D. from the Program in Biological Sciences in Public Health at Harvard University in 2004. He trained as postdoctoral research associate in molecular epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. In 2007, he was appointed as Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, at Brown University. He joined the faculty at Dartmouth in 2011, as an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Community and Family Medicine in the Section of Biostatistics and Epidemiology.

Selected Publications:


Prenatal Stress, Fearfulness, and the Epigenome: Exploratory Analysis of Sex Differences in DNA Methylation of the Glucocorticoid Receptor Gene.
Ostlund BD, Conradt E, Crowell SE, Tyrka AR, Marsit CJ, Lester BM
Front Behav Neurosci. 2016;10:147. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00147. Epub 2016 Jul 12.
PMID: 27462209

Regions of variable DNA methylation in human placenta associated with newborn neurobehavior.
Paquette AG, Houseman EA, Green BB, Lesseur C, Armstrong DA, Lester B, Marsit CJ
Epigenetics. 2016 Jul 1;:1-11. Epub 2016 Jul 1.
PMID: 27366929

Reference-free deconvolution of DNA methylation data and mediation by cell composition effects.
Houseman EA, Kile ML, Christiani DC, Ince TA, Kelsey KT, Marsit CJ
BMC Bioinformatics. 2016 Jun 29;17:259. doi: 10.1186/s12859-016-1140-4. Epub 2016 Jun 29.
PMID: 27358049

Methylation of the Glucocorticoid Receptor (NR3C1) in Placenta Is Associated with Infant Cry Acoustics.
Sheinkopf SJ, Righi G, Marsit CJ, Lester BM
Front Behav Neurosci. 2016;10:100. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00100. Epub 2016 Jun 2.
PMID: 27313516

Temporal variability of urinary cadmium in spot urine samples and first morning voids.
Vacchi-Suzzi C, Porucznik CA, Cox KJ, Zhao Y, Ahn H, Harrington JM, Levine KE, Demple B, Marsit CJ, Gonzalez A, Luft B, Meliker JR
J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2016 May 11; doi: 10.1038/jes.2016.28. Epub 2016 May 11.
PMID: 27168395

Hydroxymethylation is uniquely distributed within term placenta, and is associated with gene expression.
Green BB, Houseman EA, Johnson KC, Guerin DJ, Armstrong DA, Christensen BC, Marsit CJ
FASEB J. 2016 Apr 26; pii: fj.201600310R. Epub 2016 Apr 26.
PMID: 27118675

Maternal residential proximity to major roadways, birth weight, and placental DNA methylation.
Kingsley SL, Eliot MN, Whitsel EA, Huang YT, Kelsey KT, Marsit CJ, Wellenius GA
Environ Int. 2016 Jul-Aug;92-93:43-9. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2016.03.020. Epub 2016 Apr 5.
PMID: 27058926

Prenatal Programming of Infant Neurobehaviour in a Healthy Population.
Appleton AA, Murphy MA, Koestler DC, Lesseur C, Paquette AG, Padbury JF, Lester BM, Marsit CJ
Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2016 Jul;30(4):367-75. doi: 10.1111/ppe.12294. Epub 2016 Mar 23.
PMID: 27004434

Methylation of the Glucocorticoid Receptor Gene Promoter in Preschoolers: Links With Internalizing Behavior Problems.
Parade SH, Ridout KK, Seifer R, Armstrong DA, Marsit CJ, McWilliams MA, Tyrka AR
Child Dev. 2016 Jan-Feb;87(1):86-97. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12484.
PMID: 26822445

The Contributions of Maternal Sensitivity and Maternal Depressive Symptoms to Epigenetic Processes and Neuroendocrine Functioning.
Conradt E, Hawes K, Guerin D, Armstrong DA, Marsit CJ, Tronick E, Lester BM
Child Dev. 2016 Jan-Feb;87(1):73-85. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12483.
PMID: 26822444