OCT 06, 2016 10:30 AM PDT
Decoding human tumors and healthy tissue with mass cytometry
Presented at the Cancer Research & Oncology Virtual Event

  • Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology, Assistant Professor of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, Vanderbilt University
      Jonathan Irish is an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University in the departments of both Cancer Biology and of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. He holds BS degrees from the University of Michigan in biology, chemistry and biochemistry as well as a PhD in cancer biology from Stanford University. Before coming to Vanderbilt in December 2011, he trained at Stanford University with Garry Nolan (as a PhD student) and Ronald Levy (as a postdoc and instructor). There he created a new approach that measures signaling in individual cancer cells and applied it to the study of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) patient clinical outcomes. He later applied this technique to healthy B cells and malignant B cells in follicular lymphoma (FL). In FL, signaling identified a subset of tumor B cells that were present at diagnosis only in patients with a lower overall survival (p <0.0001) and that increased over time as the patient's cancer progressed. Systems biology tools like Cytobank, a cloud computing platform he helped create to manage and analyze single-cell signaling data, were critical to this work. His experimental approach has focused on measuring signaling events in individual cells from primary tissues, including human tumors. A central goal of his research at Vanderbilt is to understand how changes at the single-cell level alter signaling in healthy cells and lead to therapy-resistant populations in human diseases.

    New generations of treatments successfully target cancer cell signaling and modulate anti-cancer immunity to improve outcomes for advanced-stage malignancies. Such clinical responses are governed by an evolving milieu of cancer, immune, and stromal cell subpopulations. Mass cytometry is particularly well-suited to track cells in complex tissues because 35-plus measurements can be made on each of hundreds of thousands of cells per sample. This talk will focus on mass cytometry as an example of systems-level characterization of cells in healthy human tissues and solid tumors. The state of the art in single-cell cancer biology will be discussed, including tissue collection, technical and biological quality controls, analysis of cell signaling (phospho-flow) and computational analysis. Mass cytometry holds great promise for dissecting cellular microenvironments, monitoring treatment impact, revealing cellular biomarkers and effector mechanisms and creating new treatments that productively engage the immune system.

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