Christensen Lab Fall 2017

Christensen Lab Fall 2017

Principal Investigator


Brock C. Christensen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Epidemiology and of Molecular and Systems Biology

Dr. Christensen received his B.S. from the University of Wisconsin Madison in Medical Microbiology & Immunology and French, and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. in Biological Sciences in Public Health He trained as a postdoctoral research associate in molecular epidemiology of cancer at Brown University in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Dr. Christensen joined the faculty at Dartmouth in 2011.


Post-Doctoral Fellow


Lucas A. Salas, M.D. MSc M.P.H. Ph.D.

I received my medical degree from the “Universidad Nacional de Colombia”, Bogota D.C., Colombia, in 2001. I worked as a general practitioner and family physician in marginal neighborhoods of Bogotá, until 2005. Among 2005-2007, I was trained as a general epidemiologist in the National Faculty of Public Health of the “Universidad de Antioquia”. In Colombia, I was involved in several research projects including Cancer Surveillance systems and a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial for improving handwashing in children under five years of age in water stressed communities. In 2010, I moved to Barcelona, Spain, to pursue a Master in Public Health in the “Universitat Pompeu Fabra-UPF/Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona” joint program. During 2011-2015, I enrolled as a Ph.D. researcher in the UPF Biomedicine Program at the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL). My Ph.D. thesis dissertation was focused on molecular mechanisms of water carcinogens (disinfection by-products), and particularly DNA methylation changes and internal dose biomarkers of these toxicants (EPICURO/SBC, and MCC studies). In addition to my thesis, I was involved in the analyses of several genome wide methylation projects related to DOHaD, Developmental Origins of Health and Diseases, (INMA and PACE Consortia) and adult diseases (REGICOR). In November 2015, I moved to Dartmouth as a postdoctoral researcher. My work will be focused on genome wide methylation analyses of different classes of cancers.

Graduate Students


Youdinghan "David" Chen, M.S.

Doctor of Philosophy Candidate, Laboratory of Brock Christensen

Pacific Lutheran University, 2011-14

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, 2014-15

Quantitative Biomedical Sciences (present)

Understanding biology of disease is my passion. I gained both computational biology and laboratory research experience in a variety of disciplines, including genetics, development, neuroscience, immunology, and cancer.  In Fall 2016, I became a co-mentee of Dr. Brock Christensen and Dr. Arminja Kettenbach, and received the Burroughs-Wellcome Big Data in Life Sciences Training Grant. My PhD thesis aims to integrate epigenetics and proteo-genomics data for improved predictive analytics of breast cancer using bioinformatics, biostatistics, machine learning. Outside of lab, I enjoy baking, gardening, music, snow sports, and literature.

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Curtis Petersen, MPH

Doctor of Philosophy Pre-Candidate, 
jointly mentored by Brock Christensen and John Batsis

The Dartmouth Institute: 2014
The Dartmouth Institute: 2016 - present

After a lot of experience working in molecular research I decided to try and understand how macro factors influenced the micro systems I had been studying and working with. In this endeavor I studied epidemiology as a masters student at The Dartmouth Institute where I focused on breast cancer. In 2014 I helped start a remote medical sensing group working on how we can use technology and big data to help people manage their health. This process spurred me into thinking about how we might be able to use this information to interpret epigenetic changes.

I am interested in examining next generation phenotyping, bridging the gap between the exposome and disease. I aim to link the huge amount of data that we are now continuously collecting from people to how it influences genetic expression. I think that our health systems can be greatly improved through advanced analytics of new data. I hope that this work will help influence how policy is shaped and how we measure quality healthcare.


Meghan Muse, B.A.

Quantitative Biomedical Sciences, 2016 – present

Doctor of Philosophy Candidate, jointly mentored by Brock Christensen and Diane Gilbert-Diamond

Dartmouth College, BA, 2013

My training in the Quantitative Biomedical Sciences program has allowed me to explore my interests in utilizing big data to better understand the molecular basis of disease. In working with Dr. Brock Christensen and Dr. Diane Gilbert-Diamond, I aim to expand our current understanding of the interplay between epigenetics and body weight regulation as well as how BMI is associated with disease risk at the epigenetic level.


Sarah (Minkyung) Lee, B.S.

 Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine, 2018 - Present

Baruch College, City University of New York, B.S. 2018

During my undergraduate studies as an environmental pharmacology ad hoc major, I developed an interest in how the environment around us affects our health. I decided to join the Christensen lab to further explore these interests. Currently, I am interested in using both experimental and computational methods to understand epigenetic changes found in diseases and the factors that drive those changes. Outside of the lab, I enjoy travelling and exploring new cities.


Joshua J. Levy, B.A.

Quantitative Biomedical Sciences, 2018 - present

Doctor of Philosophy Student, Christensen Lab

University of California, Berkeley, 2017

My interest in biomedical data science stems from a general desire to do public good while applying heavy computational approaches. Originally, I studied Physics at the University of California at Berkeley and have practiced machine learning methods as a software developer in the computational biology space at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs and Zymergen. Now, I seek to learn more about how I can apply these concepts to impact the biomedical field and improve the human condition.

 My research at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth is in ways to develop important clinical tools by using deep learning algorithms and high performance computing. Deep learning is a machine learning technique that involves making complex predictions through computational processes that are inspired by the nervous system. I am currently designing novel deep learning approaches that give insight into the relationship between aging, disease, and the environment using high-dimensional biomarkers. 

 Until recently, neural networks have been considered to be “black box approaches”, meaning that the reasons why a given neural network yields its results are unknowable. But, I and others in this workspace have been working on techniques to identify important biomarkers responsible for these deep learning predictions. I am also evaluating whether these models can help elucidate biological mechanisms of disease and aim make these models highly accessible and understandable to biostatisticians and physicians. I am researching methods that have the potential to make these complex machine learning models more trustworthy and adoptable by the greater biomedical community.


Ji-Qing Chen, M.S.

Doctor of Philosophy Pre-Candidate, Laboratory of Brock Christensen

Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine, 2017-Present

National Taiwan University, 2009-13

National Taiwan University, 2013-15

During the master training, I have in vivo and in vitro study skills, as well as the ability to see the big picture in a research project. My master’s thesis centered on cancer biology, and my research experience and results demonstrate my passion for dissecting the mechanisms behind diseases. They have also inspired me to go further in my research so that I can uncover mysteries in the development and mechanisms of malignant tumor, to effectively cure them. I am drawn to the research of Dr. Brock Christensen for investigating the impact of epigenetic alterations in cancer development. I am interested in exploring the association between epigenetics and the response to antineoplastic drugs in cancer patients. For example, investigating whether methylation-derived immune cell profiles could be biomarkers for the response to anti-angiogenic treatment. Outside of the lab, I enjoy hiking, cooking, and skiing.


Lab Alumni


Owen M. Wilkins, MBiol., Ph.D.

University of Bath, 2013

Ph.D., Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine, 2019

Current: Bioinformatics Research Scientist, Norris Cotton Comprehensive Cancer Center and Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

Sara N. Lundgren, Ph.D.

B.A. University of Chicago, 2014

Ph.D. Quantitative Biomedical Sciences, 2019, jointly mentored by Brock Christensen and Anne Hoen

Current: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Helsinki, Finland

Alexander Titus, Ph.D.

Doctor of Philosophy Candidate, Laboratory of Brock Christensen

B.A. Biology, B.S. Biochemistry, University of Puget Sound,  2011

Ph.D. Quantitative Biomedical Sciences, 2018

Current: Head of Biotechnology, U.S. Department of Defense

LinkedIn, Personal Website


 Kevin C. Johnson, Ph.D.

University of Massachusetts – Amherst, 2011

Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine, 2011-2016

Google Scholar Profile

Current position - postdoctoral associate, Verhaak laboratory, The Jackson Laboratory,


Dylan O'Sullivan

Dartmouth College Class of 2015

Current: Ph.D. candidate, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario