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Michael A. Dyer, PhD
Michael Dyer, PhD

Michael Dyer, PhD

Member, St. Jude Faculty

  • Chair, Developmental Neurobiology Department
  • Co-Leader, Developmental Biology & Solid Tumor Program
  • Richard C. Shadyac Endowed Chair in Pediatric Cancer Research
  • Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute



PhD – Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Honors & Awards

  • 2013  Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) 2013 Investigator
  • 2009  Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) 2009 Early Career Scientist Award
  • 2009  St. Jude Mentoring Award
  • 2008-2012  Research to Prevent Blindness Lew R. Wasserman Merit Award
  • 2008  ARVO Cogan Award
  • 2004-2008  Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences
  • 2004-2008  Research to Prevent Blindness Career Development Award
  • 2000-2002  Charles H. Revson Fellowship in Biomedical Sciences
  • 2000  Mary Weston Trust Visiting Professorship, Nelson Mandela Medical School, Durban, South Africa
  • 1994-1995  Merit Fellowship, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Research Interests

  • Coordination of proliferation and differentiation during neurogenesis
  • Retinal disease and stem cell based therapies
  • Retinoblastoma and targeted chemotherapy
  • Pediatric solid malignancies
  • High throughput screening and drug discovery
  • Genomics and epigenomics of pediatric solid tumors

My laboratory is interested in understanding how neural progenitor cells coordinate their proliferation with cell fate specification during development. The precise coordination of these two processes is not only important for regulating tissue size, but it is also critical for generating the correct proportion of each neural cell type during development. When proliferation and developmental programs become uncoupled, neural function is compromised, and degeneration, dysplasia, or cancer can result.

Additional evidence of the importance of coordinating proliferation and developmental programs has come from recent studies in which compensatory mechanisms in progenitor cells have been identified. These mechanisms prevent developmental catastrophes that could result from deregulated proliferation during development. It has even been proposed that well-orchestrated changes in the regulation of proliferation during CNS development may be one mechanism for generating diversity across species during evolution. More recently, we have extended these studies and applied them to other developing tissues that are relevant to pediatric solid tumors including bone, muscle and neural crest derived lineages.

Selected Publications

Norrie JL, Lupo MS, Xu B, Al Diri I, Valentine M, Putnam D, Griffiths L, Zhang J, Johnson D, Easton J, Shao Y, Honnell V, Frase S, Miller S, Stewart V, Zhou X, Chen X, Dyer MA. Nucleome Dynamics during Retinal Development. Neuron Aug 21, 2019. pii: S0896-6273(19)30686-5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.08.002.

Stewart E, McEvoy J, Wang H, Chen X, Honnell V, Ocarz M, Gordon B, Dapper J, Blankenship K, Yang Y, Li Y, Shaw TI, Cho JH, Wang X, Xu B, Gupta P, Fan Y, Liu Y, Rusch M, Griffiths L, Jeon J, Freeman BB 3rd, Clay MR, Pappo A, Easton J, Shurtleff S, Shelat A, Zhou X, Boggs K, Mulder H, Yergeau D, Bahrami A, Mardis ER, Wilson RK, Zhang J, Peng J, Downing JR, Dyer MA; St. Jude Children's Research Hospital – Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project. Identification of Therapeutic Targets in Rhabdomyosarcoma through Integrated Genomic, Epigenomic, and Proteomic Analyses. Cancer Cell Sep 10;34(3):411-426.e19, 2018. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2018.07.012. Epub 2018 Aug 23. PMID: 30146332

Wang L, Hiler D, Xu B, AlDiri I, Chen X, Zhou X, Griffiths L, Valentine M, Shirinifard A, Sablauer A, Thiagarajan S, Barabas ME, Zhang J, Johnson D, Frase S, Dyer MA. Retinal Cell Type DNA Methylation and Histone Modifications Predict Reprogramming Efficiency and Retinogenesis in 3D Organoid Cultures. Cell Rep Mar 6;22(10):2601-2614, 2018. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.01.075. PMID: 29514090

Stewart E, Federico SM, Chen X, Shelat AA, Bradley C, Gordon B, Karlstrom A, Twarog NR, Clay MR, Bahrami A, Freeman BB 3rd, Xu B, Zhou X, Wu J, Honnell V, Ocarz M, Blankenship K, Dapper J, Mardis ER, Wilson RK, Downing J, Zhang J, Easton J, Pappo A, Dyer MA. Orthotopic patient-derived xenografts of paediatric solid tumours. Nature Sep 7;549(7670):96-100, 2017. doi: 10.1038/nature23647. Epub 2017 Aug 30. PMID: 28854174

Aldiri I, Xu B, Wang L, Chen X, Hiler D, Griffiths L, Valentine M, Shirinifard A, Thiagarajan S, Sablauer A, Barabas ME, Zhang J, Johnson D, Frase S, Zhou X, Easton J, Zhang J, Mardis ER, Wilson RK, Downing JR, Dyer MA. The Dynamic Epigenetic Landscape of the Retina During Development, Reprogramming, and Tumorigenesis. Neuron May 3;94(3):550-568.e10, 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.04.022. PMID: 28472656

Hiler DJ, Barabas ME, Griffiths LM, Dyer MA. Reprogramming retinal neurons and standardized quantification of their differentiation in 3-dimensional retinal cultures. Nature Protocols 2016 (in press). (PMCID: PMC Journal–in process).

Dyer MA. Stem Cells Expand Insights into Human Brain Evolution. Cell Stem Cell Apr 7;18(4):425-6, 2016. PMID: 27058930 (PMCID: PMC Journal–in process).

Stewart E, Federico S, Karlstrom A, Shelat A, Sablauer A, Pappo A, Dyer MA. The Childhood Solid Tumor Network: A new resource for the developmental biology and oncology research communities. Dev Biol June 9, 2015. Epub ahead of print. pii: S0012-1606(15)00105-0. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2015.03.001.

Chen X, Pappo A, Dyer MA. Pediatric solid tumor genomics and developmental pliancy. Oncogene Feb 2, 2015. Epub ahead of print. doi: 10.1038/onc.2014.474.

Hiler D, Chen X, Hazen J, Kupriyanov S, Carroll PA, Qu C, Xu B, Johnson D, Griffiths L, Frase S, Rodriguez AR, Martin G, Zhang J, Jeon J, Fan Y, Finkelstein D, Eisenman RN, Baldwin K, Dyer MA. Quantification of Retinogenesis in 3D Cultures Reveals Epigenetic Memory and Higher Efficiency in iPSCs Derived from Rod Photoreceptors. Cell Stem Cell 17(1):101-15, 2015.

Stewart E, Goshorn R, Bradley C, Griffiths LM, Benavente C, Twarog NR, Miller GM, Caufield W, Freeman BB 3rd, Bahrami A, Pappo A, Wu J, Loh A, Karlström Å, Calabrese C, Gordon B, Tsurkan L, Hatfield MJ, Potter PM, Snyder SE, Thiagarajan S, Shirinifard A, Sablauer A, Shelat AA, Dyer MA. Targeting the DNA repair pathway in Ewing sarcoma. Cell Rep 9(3):829-41, 2014.

Chen X, Bahrami A, Pappo A, Easton J, Dalton J, Hedlund E, Dyer MA. Recurrent Somatic Structural Variations Contribute to Tumorigenesis in Pediatric Osterosarcoma. Cell Reports 7(1);104-112, 2014.

Chen X, Stewart E, Shelat A, Qu c, Bahrami A, Hatley M, Wu G, Bradley C, McEvoy J, Pappo P, Spunt S, Valentine M, Dyer MA. Targeting Oxidative Stress in Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma. Cancer Cell Dec 9;24(6):710-24, 2013.

Cheung NK, Zhang J, Lu C, Parker M, Bahrami A, Tickoo SK, Heguy A, Pappo AS, Federico S, Dalton J, Cheung IY, Ding L, Fulton R, Wang J, Chen X, Becksfort J, Wu J, Billups CA, Ellison D, Mardis ER, Wilson RK, Downing JR, Dyer MA. St Jude Children's Research Hospital–Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project. Association of age at diagnosis and genetic mutations in patients with neuroblastoma. JAMA Mar 14;307(10):1062-71, 2012. (PMCID:PMC3527076)

Zhang J, Benavente CA, McEvoy J, Flores-Otero J, Ding L, Chen X, Ulyanov A, Wu G, Wilson W, Wang J, Brennan R, Rusch M, Manning AL, Ma J, Easton J, Shurtleff S, Mullighan C, Pounds S, Mukatira S, Gupta P, Neale G, Zhao D, Lu C, Fulton RS, Fulton LL, Hong X, Dooling DJ, Ochoa K, Naeve C, Dyson NJ, Mardis ER, Bahrami A, Ellison D, Wilson RK, Downing J, Dyer MA. A Novel Retinoblastoma Therapy from Genomic and Epigenetic Analyses. Nature Jan 11;481(7381):329-34, 2012. doi: 10.1038/nature10733. PMCID:PMC3289956. Faculty of 1000 (F1000)

McEvoy J, Flores-Otero J, Zhang J, Nemeth K, Brennan RC, Rodriguez-Galindo C, Wilson M, Xiong S, Lozano G, Sage J, Fu L, Louhibi L, Trimarchi J, Pani A, Smeyne R, Johnson D, Dyer MA. Coexpression of Normally Incompatible Developmental Pathways in Retinoblastoma, Cancer cell. Cancer Cell Aug 16;20(2):260-75, 2011. Faculty of 1000 (F1000)

Brennan RC, Federico S, Bradley C, Zhang J, Flores-Otero J, Wilson M, Stewart CF, Zhu F, Guy K, Dyer MA. Targeting the p53 Pathway in Retinoblastoma with Subconjunctival Nutlin-3a. Cancer Res Apr 22, 2011. [Epub ahead of print]. PMCID: PMC3116943. Faculty of 1000 (F1000)

Nemeth K, Federico S, Angel MC, Shen Y, Schaiquevich P, Zhang J, Egorin M, Stewart C, Dyer MA. Subconjunctival Carboplatin and Systemic Topotecan Treatment in Preclinical Models of Retinoblastoma. Cancer Jan 15;117(2):421-34, 2011. PMCID: PMC3000447.

Reed D, Shen Y, Shelat AA, Arnold LA, Ferreira AM, Zhu F, Mills N, Smithson DC, Regni CA, Bashford D, Cicero SA, Schulman BA, Jochemsen AG, Guy RK, Dyer MA. Identification and characterization of the first small molecule inhibitor of MDMX. Biol Chem 285(14):10786-96, 2010. (Epub 2010 Jan 15, 2010 Apr 2). PMCID: PMC2856285.

Laurie N, Mohan A, McEvoy J, Reed D, Zhang J, Schweers B, Ajioka I, Valentine V, Johnson D, Ellison D, Dyer MA. Changes in retinoblastoma cell adhesion associated with optic nerve invasion. Mol Cell Biol Dec;29(23):6268-82, 2009. Epub 2009 Sep 28. PMCID: PMC2786692

Dyer MA, Martins R, da Silva Filho M, Muniz JA, Silveira LC, Cepko CL, Finlay BL. Developmental sources of conservation and variation in the evolution of the primate eye. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA Jun 2;106(22):8963-8968, 2009. Epub 2009 May 18.

Cicero SA, Johnson D, Reyntjens S, Frase S, Connell S, Chow LM, Baker SJ, Sorrentino BP, Dyer MA. Cells previously identified as retinal stem cells are pigmented ciliary epithelial cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA Apr 21;106(16):6685-90, 2009. Epub 2009 Apr 3.

Martins RAP, Zindy F, Donovan S, Zhang J, Pounds S, Knoepfler PS, Eisenman RN, Roussel M, Dyer MA. N-myc coordinates retinal growth with eye size during mouse development. Genes and Development 15;22(2):179-193, 2008. PMCID: PMC2192753

MacPherson D, Dyer MA. Retinoblastoma: from the two-hit hypothesis to targeted chemotherapy. Cancer Res 67(16):7547-50, 2007.

Johnson DA, Zhang J, Frase S, Dyer MA. Neuronal differentiation and synaptogenesis in retinoblastoma. Cancer Res 67(6):2701-11, 2007.

Laurie N, Donovan S, Gray J, Fuller C, Johnson D, Wilson M, Rodriguez-Galindo C, Marine J-C, Jochemsen AG, Mendrysa S, Dyer MA. Inactivation the p53 pathway in retinoblastoma. Nature 444:61-66, 2006.

Johnson D, Donovan S, Dyer MA. Mosaic deletion of Rb arrests rod differentiation and stimulates ectopic synaptogenesis in the mouse retina. J Comp Neurol 498:112-128, 2006.

Donovan SL, Schweers BA, Zhang J, Martins RA, Johnson DJ, Dyer MA. Compensation by tumor suppressor genes during retinal development in mice and humans. BMC Biology 4:14 (open access), 2006.

Laurie NA, Gray JK, Zhang J, Leggas M, Relling M, Egorin M, Stewart C, Dyer MA. Topotecan combination chemotherapy in two new rodent models of retinoblastoma. Clin Cancer Res 11:7569-7578, 2005.

Dyer MA, Bremner R. The search for the retinoblastoma cell of origin. Nat Rev Cancer 5:91-101, 2005.

Zhang J, Gray J, Wu L, Leone G, Rowan S, Cepko CL, Zhu X, Craft CM, Dyer MA. Rb regulates proliferation and rod photoreceptor development in the mouse retina. Nat Genet 36:351-360, 2004.

Last update: October 2019

Full list of publications