Oncology Division
Alphabetical list (active faculty):   
David H. Spencer

David H. Spencer, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor

Department of Medicine

Oncology Division

Stem Cell Biology

Research Interests

  • AML
  • Cancer
  • Epigenetics
  • DNA methylation
  • Genomics


  • 314-273-0739 (office)
  • 314-362-9333 (fax)
  • Division of Oncology
    Campus Box 8056
    Washington University
    660 South Euclid Avenue
    St. Louis, MO 63110
  • Room 619 Southwest Tower (office)


My research program is focused on epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation in cancer. We are currently interested in the regulatory mechanisms that control HOX gene expression in normal hematopoiesis and AML. We previously conducted a comprehensive analysis of expression, methylation, and chromatin structure at the HOX loci in primary AML samples with different HOX expression profiles, which showed that the most common HOX expression pattern in AML is shared with normal CD34 cells, and that genes in the HOXA and HOXB gene clusters tend to be expressed together as a single unit. We also showed that the epigenetic patterns at these loci are shared between normal CD34 cells and AMLs with HOX expression, regardless of subtype or mutational profiles, suggesting that these cells share a common regulatory mechanism. We also identified cis-acting regulatory elements at the HOXA and HOXB loci that display epigenetic patterns that correlate with gene expression, and may therefore be acting as locus control regions. My lab is currently using CRISPR-Cas9 to delete these sequences in AML cell lines and human embryonic stem cells. We will then use genomic approaches to define the critical regulatory elements and transcriptional regulators involved in HOX gene regulation in normal hematopoietic development using in vitro differentiation, and how these mechanisms differ from those involved in regulating HOX genes in AML cells.