Research Overview

Dr. Christensen's research is focused on combining advances in molecular biology, genomics and bioinformatics with the powerful techniques of modern epidemiology and statistics to characterize epigenetic states in human health and disease. His interests include understanding relationships between epigenetic states and exposures in the context of disease susceptibility, occurrence, and progression. By investigating complex interactions between the environment and somatic epigenetic alterations in target tissues, as well as epigenetic susceptibility traits in surrogate tissues, he hopes to develop their potential translational utility for diagnostic, prognostic, and/or treatment purposes.

Currents Grants

Molecular Epidemiology COBRE: 
Early risk factor related epigenetic alterations in breast carcinogenesis 

Breast cancer is the most common non-keratinocyte cancer among women. Our proposal will characterize the relationships between risk factors for invasive breast cancer and epigenetic alterations in pre-cancerous and non-invasive breast tissues to extend our understanding of breast carcinogenesis and inform novel strategies for disease prevention.

MicroRNA related genetic variation and head and neck cancer

Hundreds of thousands of new head and neck cancers are diagnosed each year and there remains an incomplete understanding of the genetic factors that contribute to risk and survival in this deadly disease. Our proposal will examine the relationship between as yet uncharacterized regulatory genetic variants and head and neck cancer risk and survival to identify biomarkers of disease risk and survival that may benefit both individuals at risk for this disease as well as patients.

MicroRNA related genetic variation in bladder cancer recurrence and survival

Hundreds of thousands of individuals are living with a diagnosis of bladder cancer, over half of whom will suffer disease recurrence. There is an incomplete understanding of the genetic factors that contribute to recurrence and survival in bladder cancer. Thus, our proposal will examine the relationship between as yet uncharacterized regulatory genetic variants and bladder cancer recurrence and survival to identify biomarkers may benefit patients, in part by reducing morbidity associated with routine invasive cystoscopy.

 

Photo by Josh Renaud '17, Dartmouth College