Michael Dyer, PhD

Michael A. Dyer, PhD

Member, St. Jude Faculty
Director, Division of Developmental Biology
Co-Leader, Developmental Biology and Solid Tumor Program
HHMI Investigator


Developmental Neurobiology


Developmental Biology

Contact Information

Michael Dyer, PhD
Developmental Neurobiology
MS 324, Room D2039D
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN 38105-3678
Email: michael.dyer@stjude.org
Phone: (901) 595-2257
FAX: (901) 595-7641


PhD - Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Honors & Awards

Research Interests

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.

Dyer lab

Selected Publications

From 74 peer reviewed articles and 12 book chapters

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: April 2014