Avrum Spira, MD
Alexander Graham Bell Professor in Health Care Entrepreneurship
Boston University School of Medicine
Dept of Medicine
Computational Biomedicine Section

MD, McGill University
MSc, Boston University

Dr. Spira is a Professor in the Departments of Medicine, and Pathology and Bioinformatics and is founding Chief of the Division of Computational Biomedicine in the Department of Medicine at BUSM. He attends in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Boston Medical Center and directs the Translational Bioinformatics Program in the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Boston University.

Dr. Spira’s laboratory research interests focus on applying genomic and bioinformatics tools to the translational study of lung cancer and Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COPD), with the ultimate objective of developing novel diagnostics and therapeutics that can directly impact clinical care. He is funded as a Principal Investigator through three institutes at the NIH including the NCI, NHLBI, and NIEHS as well as the Department of Defense. His research program centers around the concept that inhaled toxins create a “field of injury” in all exposed airway epithelial cells, and that by measuring gene expression in a relatively pure population of these cells, one can develop a gene-expression profile that reflects the physiological response to and damage from the toxin. The importance of the “field-of-injury” concept is that it allows for the detection of lung disease in tissues that are more readily assayed than the diseased lung itself.

His lab has characterized the impact of cigarette smoking on intra-thoracic (lobar bronchi) and extra-thoracic (mouth and nasal) airway epithelial cell gene expression, and he has leveraged this approach to develop a bronchial airway gene-expression biomarker for the early detection of lung cancer that is currently being validated in a multicenter clinical trial. His lab has also extended this “field of injury” paradigm to the premalignant and lung cancer screening settings, potentially allowing personalized genomic approaches to lung cancer chemoprophylaxis and therapy. This disease-specific airway “field of injury” concept is also being applied to Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COPD), to better understand the molecular diversity of COPD, both for developing subtype-targeted therapies and for developing biomarkers that would allow identification of biologically distinct forms of COPD. Most significantly, his lab has identified airway gene-expression biomarkers that can be used to monitor disease activity and response to therapy in COPD, and they have connected gene expression signatures of disease in clinical samples to in vitro small molecule perturbations to move from bedside to bench and identify new uses for existing drugs as potential COPD therapeutics. Finally, we are exploring gene-expression profiles in nasal and buccal epithelium as biomarkers of the physiological response to inhaled toxins and their potential role as lung disease biomarkers in large-scale population studies.

Boston University School of Medicine
Computational Biomedicine Section

Section Chief of Medicine in Computational Biomedicine
Boston University School of Medicine
Computational Biomedicine Section

Boston University School of Medicine
Cancer Research Center

Boston University School of Medicine
Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

Mentor for Graduate Medical Students
Boston University School of Medicine, Division of Graduate Medical Sciences

Active Staff Privileges
Boston Medical Center
Pulmonary, Allergy, Sleep & Critical Care Medicine Section

Boston University
Bioinformatics Graduate Program

2011-2011 ASCI: Elected member ASCI
2010-2010 Uniting Against Lung Cancer: Caine Halter Hope Now Award, Uniting Against Lung Cancer

DECAMP (Immunology)
12/01/2016 - 11/17/2020 (PI)
Janssen Research & Development, LLC

New England Centenarian Study
07/01/2016 - 06/30/2020 (Co-PI)
PI: Thomas T. Perls, MD, MPH, FACP
The William M. Wood Foundation

Detection of Early Lung Cancer Among Military Personnel (DECAMP)
09/30/2011 - 03/29/2019 (PI)
Department of Defense/Army Medical Resea

Correlating Histological, Radiological, and Gene Expression Patterns in the Lungs of IPF Patients
10/16/2015 - 10/15/2018 (PI)
Genentech, Inc.

The Boston University-UCLA Lung Cancer Biomarker Development Lab
09/20/2016 - 08/31/2018 (PI)
NIH/National Cancer Institute

Integrated molecular, cellular and imaging characterization of screen-detected lung cancer
09/16/2015 - 08/31/2018 (PI)
University of California, Los Angeles NIH NCI

Broad Institute Cancer Model and Development Center
01/10/2017 - 06/30/2018 (PI)
Broad Institute NIH NCI

Integrative Omics to Discover Molecular Determinants of COPD
06/01/2016 - 05/31/2018 (PI)
NIH/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Inst

The Premalignant Cancer Genome Atlas (PCGA) for Squamous Cell Lining Carcinoma
03/01/2013 - 09/30/2017 (PI)
Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, In

Whole genome miRNA expression scan among workers exposed to diesel exhaust
09/30/2016 - 09/29/2017 (PI)
NIH/National Cancer Institute

Showing 10 of 35 results. Show All Results

Yr Title Project-Sub Proj Pubs
2017 The Boston University-UCLA Lung Cancer Biomarker Development Lab 5U01CA214182-02
2017 Impact of smoking and its cessation on systemic and airway immune activation 5R01DA042685-02
2017 Integrated Molecular, Cellular, and Imaging Characterization of Screen-Detected Lung Cancer 5U01CA196408-03
2016 Molecular and Imaging Biomarkers for Early Lung Cancer Detection in the Setting of Indeterminate Pulmonary Nodules 1R01CA210360-01
2016 The Boston University-UCLA Lung Cancer Biomarker Development Lab 1U01CA214182-01
2016 Impact of smoking and its cessation on systemic and airway immune activation 1R01DA042685-01
2016 Integrated Molecular, Cellular, and Imaging Characterization of Screen-Detected Lung Cancer 5U01CA196408-02
2016 Integrative Omics to Discover Molecular Determinants of COPD 4R01HL118542-04 1
2015 Integrated Molecular, Cellular, and Imaging Characterization of Screen-Detected Lung Cancer 1U01CA196408-01
2015 The UCLA - Boston University Lung Cancer Biomarker Development Laboratory 3U01CA152751-05S2 12
Showing 10 of 48 results. Show All Results
Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.

  1. Obeidat M, Nie Y, Fishbane N, Li X, Bossé Y, Joubert P, Nickle DC, Hao K, Postma DS, Timens W, Sze MA, Shannon CP, Hollander Z, Ng RT, McManus B, Miller BE, Rennard S, Spira A, Hackett TL, Lam W, Lam S, Faner R, Agusti A, Hogg JC, Sin DD, Paré PD. Integrative Genomics of Emphysema-Associated Genes Reveals Potential Disease Biomarkers. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2017 Oct; 57(4):411-418. PMID: 28459279.
  2. Sivakumar S, San Lucas FA, McDowell TL, Lang W, Xu L, Fujimoto J, Zhang J, Futreal PA, Fukuoka J, Yatabe Y, Dubinett SM, Spira AE, Fowler J, Hawk ET, Wistuba II, Scheet P, Kadara H. Genomic landscape of atypical adenomatous hyperplasia reveals divergent modes to lung adenocarcinoma. Cancer Res. 2017 Sep 26. PMID: 28951454.
  3. Ong J, Timens W, Rajendran V, Algra A, Spira A, Lenburg ME, Campbell JD, van den Berge M, Postma DS, van den Berg A, Kluiver J, Brandsma CA. Identification of transforming growth factor-beta-regulated microRNAs and the microRNA-targetomes in primary lung fibroblasts. PLoS One. 2017; 12(9):e0183815.View Related Profiles. PMID: 28910321.
  4. Pavel AB, Campbell JD, Liu G, Elashoff D, Dubinett S, Smith K, Whitney D, Lenburg ME, Spira A. Alterations in Bronchial Airway miRNA Expression for Lung Cancer Detection. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2017 Sep 06.View Related Profiles. PMID: 28877936.
  5. Suzuki M, Sze MA, Campbell JD, Brothers JF, Lenburg ME, McDonough JE, Elliott WM, Cooper JD, Spira A, Hogg JC. The cellular and molecular determinants of emphysematous destruction in COPD. Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 25; 7(1):9562.View Related Profiles. PMID: 28842670.
  6. Beane J, Campbell JD, Lel J, Vick J, Spira A. Genomic approaches to accelerate cancer interception. Lancet Oncol. 2017 Aug; 18(8):e494-e502. PMID: 28759388.
  7. Beane J, Mazzilli SA, Tassinari AM, Liu G, Zhang X, Liu H, Buncio AD, Dhillon SS, Platero SJ, Lenburg ME, Reid ME, Lam S, Spira AE. Detecting the Presence and Progression of Premalignant Lung Lesions via Airway Gene Expression. Clin Cancer Res. 2017 Sep 01; 23(17):5091-5100.View Related Profiles. PMID: 28533227.
  8. Gold DR, Adamkiewicz G, Arshad SH, Celedón JC, Chapman MD, Chew GL, Cook DN, Custovic A, Gehring U, Gern JE, Johnson CC, Kennedy S, Koutrakis P, Leaderer B, Mitchell H, Litonjua AA, Mueller GA, O''Connor GT, Ownby D, Phipatanakul W, Persky V, Perzanowski MS, Ramsey CD, Salo PM, Schwaninger JM, Sordillo JE, Spira A, Suglia SF, Togias A, Zeldin DC, Matsui EC. NIAID, NIEHS, NHLBI, and MCAN Workshop Report: The indoor environment and childhood asthma-implications for home environmental intervention in asthma prevention and management. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017 Oct; 140(4):933-949.View Related Profiles. PMID: 28502823.
  9. Vachani A, Sequist LV, Spira A. AJRCCM: 100-Year Anniversary. The Shifting Landscape for Lung Cancer: Past, Present, and Future. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2017 May 01; 195(9):1150-1160. PMID: 28459327.
  10. Spira A, Yurgelun MB, Alexandrov L, Rao A, Bejar R, Polyak K, Giannakis M, Shilatifard A, Finn OJ, Dhodapkar M, Kay NE, Braggio E, Vilar E, Mazzilli SA, Rebbeck TR, Garber JE, Velculescu VE, Disis ML, Wallace DC, Lippman SM. Precancer Atlas to Drive Precision Prevention Trials. Cancer Res. 2017 Apr 01; 77(7):1510-1541.View Related Profiles. PMID: 28373404; DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-2346;.
Showing 10 of 114 results. Show More

This graph shows the total number of publications by year, by first, middle/unknown, or last author.

Bar chart showing 114 publications over 16 distinct years, with a maximum of 16 publications in 2016

In addition to these self-described keywords below, a list of MeSH based concepts is available here.

airway epithelium
airway gene expression
cancer biomarkers
lung cancer
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