(Boston) -Avrum Spira, MD, MSc has been appointed as chief of the section of computational biomedicine in the department of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM). This newly established division will develop and apply computational approaches to the analysis of high-throughput molecular datasets in order to improve the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of complex medical diseases.
Spira received his medical degree from McGill University Faculty of Medicine, Montreal, Canada, and his master’s degree in Bioinformatics from Boston University. He performed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Toronto and his fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Boston Medical Center (BMC).
He attends to patients in the Medical Intensive Care Unit and on the Pulmonary/Critical Care Interventional service at BMC. Spira directs both the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Program in the Pulmonary Center and the Translational Bioinformatics Program in the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at BUSM.
Spira’s research interests focus on applying high-throughput genomic and bioinformatics tools to the translational study of lung cancer and Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. He is funded as a Principal Investigator through the National Institutes of Health and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. His primary research is on determining how cigarette smoking affects intra-thoracic (lobar bronchi) and extra-thoracic (mouth and nasal) airway epithelial cell gene and microRNA expression and to use this information to develop a non-invasive genomic biomarker for lung cancer that can identify that subset of smokers who have, or are at risk for developing, lung cancer.
Additionally, his lab is exploring how this molecular “field of injury” in the airway epithelium reflects information about the perturbation of specific oncogenic pathways within an individual, potentially allowing personalized genomic approaches to lung cancer chemoprophylaxis and therapy. This airway “field of injury” concept is also being extended to explore the molecular pathways that contribute to the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive lung disease, as well as identify non-invasive measures of the biological response to tobacco exposure that can be applied to large-scale population studies as part of the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH/NIEHS) Genes and Environment Initiative.
Spira, an associate professor medicine and pathology at BUSM, belongs to numerous professional organizations including the American Thoracic Society and the American Association for Cancer Research. He has served as a member of NIH study sections at both the National Heart Lung and the National Cancer Institute.
Spira is a reviewer for many journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, Nature Medicine and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He has authored more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and chapters and has patented several approaches and devices for the early detection of lung cancer.