David Rodenhiser

Genetics & Development Dr. David Rodenhiser


Scientist, Division of Genetics & Development, Children’s Health Research Institute
Associate Professor, Department of Paediatrics, Biochemistry and Oncology, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University
Principal Investigator, London Regional Cancer Program

How my research helps children

My research focuses on ‘epigenetics’: a process in which genes are turned on (or off) without a direct change in the DNA sequence.  This epigenetic regulation of gene expression is critically important during embryonic development and in tumour formation.  Epigenetic errors in DNA methylation patterns and histone modifications can alter gene expression, cause aberrant developmental programs and lead to many paediatric and adult cancers.  I am particularly interested in how epigenetic mechanisms mediate environmental effects on development.


Current Research Activities

Ongoing research in my lab focuses on (a) defining the functional important of DNA methylation changes in tumour formation in general and cancer metastasis in particular, (b) determining how cancer-causing compounds in the environment alter epigenetic patterns and contribute to tumour formation and (c) defining how these environmental pollutants alter epigenetic patterns and compromise embryonic development.

Research Team

At present my lab consists of a technician and bioinformatics specialist (Joe Andrews) and I co-supervise a PhD student (Kay Skrowonski) along with Dr Brenda Coomber at the University of Guelph.  A number of former trainees from my lab have gone on to medical school, as well as to further graduate work at academic institutions in Canada and the US (Princeton, Baylor and Toronto), and into industry (Myriad Genetics).

Future Research Plans

I have a long-term interest in understanding how cells respond at the molecular level to environmental stress.  Epigenetic processes are critically important to these responses and when these processes are impaired, embryonic development can be altered (leading to paediatric disorders) or cells can become uncontrollable (tumours can develop).  My research program has multiple foci, including studying epigenetic changes due to chemical exposure during Xenopus development (with Dr. Tom Drysdale) the evolutionary impact of epigenetic processes in cancer metastasis (with Dr. Ann Chambers), looking at epigenetic regulation of new blood vessels in response to hypoglycemia and hypoxia (with Dr. Brenda Coomber) and on the contribution of epigenetic factors in pancreatitis (with Drs. Chris Pin and Rashid Mehmood).

Awards & Grants

Awards & Grants

Ongoing funding in support of: Initiative in Environmental Epigenetics using Xenopus – Awarded by Western University (ADF)

Ongoing funding in support of: The role of ischemia in tumor progression: implications for response to therapy – Awarded by Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (CCSRI)

Previous funding in support of Steps in Breast Cancer metastasis: Cell and animal models of lymphatic metastasis and post-surgical therapy of breast cancer and Modelling of critical steps in mammary tumour progression in 3D culture and in vivo – Awarded by Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance

Recent Publications

Selected Publications

Gene signatures of breast cancer progression and metastasis
Rodenhiser DI, Andrews JD, Vandenberg TA, Chambers AF
Breast Cancer Research. 2011; 13:201-8

Multi-platform whole-genome microarray analyses refine the epigenetic signature of breast cancer metastasis with gene expression and copy number
Andrews J, Kennette W, Pilon JM, Hodgson A, Tuck AB, Chambers A, Rodenhiser DI
PLoS ONE. 2010; 5(1):e8665

Ischemia dysregulates DNA methyltransferases and p16INK4a methylation in human colorectal cancer cells
Skowronski K, Dubey S, Rodenhiser DI, Coomber BL
Epigenetics. 2010; 5(6):547-566

Epigenetic contributions to cancer metastasis
Rodenhiser DI
Clinical and Experimental Metastasis. 2009; 26(1):5-18

Epigenetic mapping and functional analysis in a breast cancer metastasis model using whole-genome promoter tiling microarrays
Rodenhiser DI, Andrews J, Kennette W, Sadikovic B, Mendlowitz A, Tuck AB, Chambers AF
Breast Cancer Research. 2008; 10:R62. DOI: 10.1186/bcr2121

Genome-wide H3K9 histone acetylation profiles are altered in benzopyrene treated MCF7 breast cancer cells
Sadikovic B, Andrews J, Carter D, Robinson J and Rodenhiser DI
J Biological Chemistry. 2008; 283(7):4051-4060

DNA methylation analysis using CpG microarrays is impaired in benzopyrene exposed cells
Sadikovic B, Andrews J and Rodenhiser DI
Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. 2007; 225:300-309

Additional publications



Phone: (519) 685-8500, x52198
Fax: (519) 685-8616
Email: drodenhi [at] uwo [dot] ca
Website: http://publish.uwo.ca/~drodenhi/

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