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Michael B. Sporn, MD

Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Emeritus Professor of Medicine

Pharmacology and 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

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

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


Nrf2 protects against radiation-induced oral mucositis via antioxidation and keratin layer thickening.
Wakamori S, Taguchi K, Nakayama Y, Ohkoshi A, Sporn MB, Ogawa T, Katori Y, Yamamoto M
Free Radic Biol Med. 2022 Aug 1;188:206-220. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2022.06.239. Epub 2022 Jun 24.
PMID: 35753588

Distinct Regulations of HO-1 Gene Expression for Stress Response and Substrate Induction.
Zhang A, Suzuki T, Adachi S, Naganuma E, Suzuki N, Hosoya T, Itoh K, Sporn MB, Yamamoto M
Mol Cell Biol. 2021 Oct 26;41(11):e0023621. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00236-21. Epub 2021 Aug 16.
PMID: 34398680

Perioperative outcomes of pulmonary resection after neoadjuvant pembrolizumab in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.
Tong BC, Gu L, Wang X, Wigle DA, Phillips JD, Harpole DH Jr, Klapper JA, Sporn T, Ready NE, D'Amico TA
J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2022 Feb;163(2):427-436. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2021.02.099. Epub 2021 Apr 9.
PMID: 33985811

CDDO-imidazolide Targets Multiple Amino Acid Residues on the Nrf2 Adaptor, Keap1.
Meng X, Waddington JC, Tailor A, Lister A, Hamlett J, Berry N, Park BK, Sporn MB
J Med Chem. 2020 Sep 10;63(17):9965-9976. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.0c01088. Epub 2020 Aug 19.
PMID: 32787104

Retraction notice to "Synthetic triterpenoids, CDDO-Imidazolide and CDDO-Ethyl amide, induce chondrogenesis" [Osteoarthr Cartil 20 (2012) 446-450].
Suh N, Paul S, Lee HJ, Yoon T, Shah N, Son AI, Reddi AH, Medici D, Sporn MB
Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2020 Jun;28(6):865. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2020.05.005.
PMID: 32471658

Retinoid X receptor agonist LG100268 modulates the immune microenvironment in preclinical breast cancer models.
Leal AS, Zydeck K, Carapellucci S, Reich LA, Zhang D, Moerland JA, Sporn MB, Liby KT
NPJ Breast Cancer. 2019;5:39. doi: 10.1038/s41523-019-0135-5. Epub 2019 Nov 1.
PMID: 31700995

Testing Novel Pyrimidinyl Rexinoids: A New Paradigm for Evaluating Rexinoids for Cancer Prevention.
Zhang D, Leal AS, Carapellucci S, Shahani PH, Bhogal JS, Ibrahim S, Raban S, Jurutka PW, Marshall PA, Sporn MB, Wagner CE, Liby KT
Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2019 Apr;12(4):211-224. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-18-0317. Epub 2019 Feb 13.
PMID: 30760500

Chemoprevention of Preclinical Breast and Lung Cancer with the Bromodomain Inhibitor I-BET 762.
Zhang D, Leal AS, Carapellucci S, Zydeck K, Sporn MB, Liby KT
Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2018 Mar;11(3):143-156. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-17-0264. Epub 2017 Dec 15.
PMID: 29246957

Synthetic oleanane triterpenoids enhance blood brain barrier integrity and improve survival in experimental cerebral malaria.
Crowley VM, Ayi K, Lu Z, Liby KT, Sporn M, Kain KC
Malar J. 2017 Nov 14;16(1):463. doi: 10.1186/s12936-017-2109-0. Epub 2017 Nov 14.
PMID: 29137631

Design, synthesis, and biological activity of second-generation synthetic oleanane triterpenoids.
Fu L, Lin QX, Onyango EO, Liby KT, Sporn MB, Gribble GW
Org Biomol Chem. 2017 Jul 19;15(28):6001-6005. doi: 10.1039/c7ob01420a.
PMID: 28678272

View more publications on PubMed