Faculty Profile

Marc Bissonnette
Section of Gastroenterology
Associate Professor of Medicine
Referring Physician Access Line: 1-877-DOM-2730

Academic Interests

Dr. Bissonnette’s research interests include investigations to understand factors that cause cells lining the colon to become cancerous. His laboratory is especially interested in how diet alters the susceptibility to develop colon cancer. He is studying Western diets that promote colon cancer growth and fish oil diets that inhibit tumor development. Dietary constituents have been shown to regulate growth factor signals. These growth factor signals are essential for healing colitis, but when chronically over-active, growth factor signals can promote tumor development. Western diets increase growth factor signals, whereas fish oil diets suppress them. We believe these diet-induced differences in growth factor signals play central roles in the tumor-promoting versus tumor-inhibiting activities of diet. Recent studies have implicated colonic bile acids and bacteria in controlling these growth factors. Future research efforts will focus on understanding how bile acids and bacteria collaborate to enhance Western diet-related growth factor signals that promote colon cancer. Dr. Bissonnette is also studying the role of inflammation (e.g. ulcerative colitis) in colon cancer development. Ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory disease of the colon, is an important risk factor for colon cancer. We are currently investigating two microRNAs important for cell differentiation that appear to be strongly down-regulated in ulcerative colitis. Since these miRNAs have been shown to be colonic tumor suppressors, his lab speculates that their down-regulations contribute to ulcerative colitis-associated colon cancer. In recent studies, he showed that dietary vitamin D increases these anti-tumor miRNAs in human colon. Thus vitamin D supplementation could offer a promising new dietary approach to prevent colon cancer in individuals with ulcerative colitis.

Clinical Interests



For a complete list of publications click here:


  • BS, 1968, Purdue University, Physics
  • MD, 1975, The University of Chicago
  • Residency, 1980, University of Pennsylvania, Medicine
  • Fellowship, 1981, University of Pennsylvania, Gastroenterology
  • Fellowship, 1984, National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases, Digestive Diseases