Current Projects & Pilots

Current Projects

"Oxysterols and Colorectal Adenomas: Circulating Concentrations and Genotypes" 

Michael Passarelli, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology, leads the project investigating oxysterols and colorectal adenomas. Dyslipidemia and metabolic syndrome are potential risk factors for colorectal neoplasia. This project investigates the association between plasma concentration oxysterols, the first-step metabolism products of cholesterol in the biosynthesis of bile acids, and colorectal adenoma recurrence in the Vitamin D and Calcium Polyp Prevention Study. The project will also evaluate whether the association between oxysterol blood levels and adenoma recurrence is modified by common inherited variation in genes known to play a role in oxysterol metabolism.

 "Effects of Perfluoroalkyl Substances on Gestational Weight Gain, Breastfeeding, and Early Life Growth"

Megan Romano, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of epidemiology, leads the project investigating perfluoroalkyl substances and their effect on gestational weight gain, breastfeeding, and early life growth. Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are synthetic chemicals commonly used in nonstick coatings, food packaging, and water repellent clothing. This project will leverage biospecimens and data from the New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study to determine whether maternal blood concentrations of PFASs are associated with excessive weight gain during pregnancy, reduced duration of breastfeeding, or changes in breast milk composition. The project will also investigate the influence of gestational exposure to PFASs on childhood adiposity and physical growth trajectory.


"A single-cell approach to disentangle tumor microenvironments in short and long survivors to clear-cell renal carcinoma." 

Lucas A Salas, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of epidemiology, leads the project investigating single-cell characterization of clear cell renal carcinomas. Clear cell renal carcinoma (ccRCC) is the most common kidney malignancy in adults.  ccRCC microenvironment is highly heterogeneous, and that heterogeneity has been traced to worst patient survival. This project investigates the diversity of tumor cells and microenvironment cells using single-cell gene expression patterns using samples from the Dartmouth Renal Tumor Biobank. The project will also determine differences in cell-type content and gene expression pathways between short and long-term survivors to ccRCC.

Completed Projects

"The Role of Physician Network Properties in Diffusion of a Novel Cancer Technology" 

Erika Moen, PhD, MS, assistant professor of biomedical data science, leads the project investigating physician networks. Oncotype DX is a gene expression profiling test used to predict the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence, benefit from chemotherapy, and survival in patients with early stage breast cancer. This project uses network analysis to examine early adoption and subsequent diffusion of Oncotype DX across a national breast cancer physician network. The project will also investigate whether early adopter status predicts longer-term utilization trends of Oncotype DX and chemotherapy.


 "Histopathological Characterization of Colorectal Polyps through Biomedical Informatics" 

Saeed Hassanpour, PhD, assistant professor of biomedical data science and epidemiology, leads the project investigating the characterization of colorectal polyps. The overall objective of this project is to develop and evaluate an automatic deep learning model to analyze and classify the histopathological characterization of colorectal polyps on whole-slide histology images by leveraging data from a polyp prevention randomized intervention trial.


"Early Risk Factor Related Epigenetic Alterations in Breast Cancer Pathogenesis"

Brock Christensen, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology, community and family medicine, and molecular and systems biology, leads the Biorepository Core and completed a project investigating early risk factor related epigenetic alterations in breast cancer pathogenesis.



GilbertDiamond"Relation Between In–utero Vitamin D and Immune Function in Early Childhood”

Diane Gilbert-Diamond, ScD, associate professor of epidemiology, led a project investigating maternal and infant cord blood vitamin D concentrations, and childhood allergy/atopy and infection.




Juliette Madan"Neonatal Microbiome, Exposures and Infection"

Juliette Madan, MD, MS, assistant professor of pediatrics and epidemiology, led a project investigating the neonatal microbiome. Building on her research in babies with cystic fibrosis and prematurity, Dr. Madan investigated intestinal bacterial colonization in pre- and full-term infants and how they are connected to infection and allergy risk.



Punshon"Assessing Maternal-Fetal Exposure Pathways Using Bio-imaging"

Tracy Punshon, PhD, research assistant professor of biological sciences at Dartmouth College, led the project assessing maternal-fetal exposure pathways using bio-imaging. Dr. Punshon's project examined the relationship between maternal and infant biomarker concentrations, placental concentrations and distribution, and possible modification by candidate gene polymorphisms.



Hoen “Functional Studies of the Developing Infant Gut Microbiota Using Metabolomics”

Anne Hoen, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology, biomedical data science, and microbiology and immunology, led the project investigating functional studies of the developing infant gut microbiota using metabolomics. This project investigated the infant nutritional factors that shape gut microbiota function in the first year of life, integrating with ongoing DNA sequence-based microbiome characterizations of the same samples, and explored the role of the gut microbiota in mediating associations between nutritional factors and health outcomes in infants and young children.


Pilot Projects

The Center is pleased to fund new Pilot Studies to advance Molecular Epidemiology at Dartmouth and beyond:

Dr. Terri Lewinson: "Tobacco smoke in hotels: A study of resident risk and nicotine exposure"

Dr. Jennifer Meijer: "Metabolic response to a high-fat challenge in children and adolescents"

Dr. Caitlin Howe: "Contributions of Breastfeeding and Arsenic Exposure to the Infant Fecal miRNome" (Extension of "Toxic Metal Impacts on Extracellular Vesicle miRNAs and Contributions to Early Life Growth"

Dr. Leigh Hickerson: "Intrapartum Echocardiography and serum Cardiac Biomarkers to Detect Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease"

Completed Pilot Projects

Dr. Jeremiah Brown: “Novel Biomarkers to Predict Readmission in Pediatric and Adult Heart Surgery”

Dr. Vivien Taylor: "Maternal and in utero exposure to arsenic from marine-based dietary supplements"

Dr. Marta Rodriguez-Garcia: "Role of the microbiome in shaping neutrophil immune responses in the female reproductive tract before and after menopause"

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”

Dr. Roberta diFlorio-Alexander: "Fat-infiltrated lymph nodes and node positive breast cancer in obese women”

Dr. Caitlin Howe: "Toxic Metal Impacts on Extracellular Vesicle miRNAs and Contributions to Early Life Growth"

Dr. Aravindhan Sriharan: "Artificial Intelligence Systems in Mohs Micrographic Surgery for the Melanoma"

Drs. Jennifer Hong & George Zanazzi: "Evaluation of perineuronal net structure and function in human brain pathology"

Dr. Diwakar Pattabiraman: "Quantifying tumor heterogeneity as a biomarker for breast cancer"

Dr. Joshua Levy: "Cellular components of skin photo-aging assess optimal sun damage therapeutics"