Alison Holmes Tisch, MSN, RN, ANP-BC, AOCNP is an Adult Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner who specializes in treatment and symptom management for individuals who are living with lung cancer, thymic cancer or mesothelioma. She has practiced in the department of Thoracic Oncology at Stanford Healthcare for more than 8 years and is passionate about supporting individuals and their families during challenging times and ensuring state of the art care with clinical trials, standard treatment options and supportive care and symptom management.

Clinical Focus

  • Cancer > Thoracic Oncology
  • Nurse Practitioner

Professional Education

  • BA, Tufts University, Biochemistry (2005)
  • Professional Education: Yale School of Nursing-Dean's Office (2011) CT
  • Board Certification: Oncology Nursing Certification Corp, Nurse Practitioner (2012)

All Publications

  • Pruritus as a Paraneoplastic Symptom of Thymoma JOURNAL OF THORACIC ONCOLOGY Padda, S. K., Shrager, J. B., Riess, J. W., Pagtama, J. Y., Tisch, A. J., Kwong, B. Y., Liang, Y., Schwartz, E. J., Loo, B. W., Neal, J. W., Hardy, R., Wakelee, H. A. 2015; 10 (11): E110-E112

    View details for DOI 10.1097/JTO.0000000000000623

    View details for PubMedID 26536199

  • Factors associated with depressive symptoms in cancer family caregivers of patients receiving chemotherapy SUPPORTIVE CARE IN CANCER Williams, A., Holmes, A. J., Dixon, J., McCorkle, R. 2013; 21 (9): 2387–94

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00520-013-1802-y

    View details for Web of Science ID 000322626600003

    View details for PubMedID 23564073

  • Ultra deep sequencing detects a low rate of mosaic mutations in tuberous sclerosis complex HUMAN GENETICS Qin, W., Kozlowski, P., Taillon, B. E., Bouffard, P., Holmes, A. J., Janne, P., Camposano, S., Thiele, E., Franz, D., Kwiatkowski, D. J. 2010; 127 (5): 573–82


    Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is an autosomal dominant neurocutaneous syndrome caused by mutations in TSC1 and TSC2. However, 10-15% TSC patients have no mutation identified with conventional molecular diagnostic studies. We used the ultra-deep pyrosequencing technique of 454 Sequencing to search for mosaicism in 38 TSC patients who had no TSC1 or TSC2 mutation identified by conventional methods. Two TSC2 mutations were identified, each at 5.3% read frequency in different patients, consistent with mosaicism. Both mosaic mutations were confirmed by several methods. Five of 38 samples were found to have heterozygous non-mosaic mutations, which had been missed in earlier analyses. Several other possible low-frequency mosaic mutations were identified by deep sequencing, but were discarded as artifacts by secondary studies. The low frequency of detection of mosaic mutations, two (6%) of 33, suggests that the majority of TSC patients who have no mutation identified are not due to mosaicism, but rather other causes, which remain to be determined. These findings indicate the ability of deep sequencing, coupled with secondary confirmatory analyses, to detect low-frequency mosaic mutations.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00439-010-0801-z

    View details for Web of Science ID 000276665000010

    View details for PubMedID 20165957

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2854849

  • Lung Adenocarcinoma with EGFR Amplification Has Distinct Clinicopathologic and Molecular Features in Never-Smokers CANCER RESEARCH Sholl, L. M., Yeap, B. Y., Iafrate, A., Holmes-Tisch, A. J., Chou, Y., Wu, M., Goan, Y., Su, L., Benedettini, E., Yu, J., Loda, M., Jaenne, P. A., Christiani, D. C., Chirieac, L. R. 2009; 69 (21): 8341–48


    In a subset of lung adenocarcinomas, the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is activated by kinase domain mutations and/or gene amplification, but the interaction between the two types of abnormalities is complex and unclear. For this study, we selected 99 consecutive never-smoking women of East Asian origin with lung adenocarcinomas that were characterized by histologic subtype. We analyzed EGFR mutations by PCR-capillary sequencing, EGFR copy number abnormalities by fluorescence and chromogenic in situ hybridization and quantitative PCR, and EGFR expression by immunohistochemistry with both specific antibodies against exon 19 deletion-mutated EGFR and total EGFR. We compared molecular and clinicopathologic features with disease-free survival. Lung adenocarcinomas with EGFR amplification had significantly more EGFR exon 19 deletion mutations than adenocarcinomas with disomy, and low and high polysomy (100% versus 54%, P = 0.009). EGFR amplification occurred invariably on the mutated and not the wild-type allele (median mutated/wild-type ratios 14.0 versus 0.33, P = 0.003), was associated with solid histology (P = 0.008), and advanced clinical stage (P = 0.009). EGFR amplification was focally distributed in lung cancer specimens, mostly in regions with solid histology. Patients with EGFR amplification had a significantly worse outcome in univariate analysis (median disease-free survival, 16 versus 31 months, P = 0.01) and when adjusted for stage (P = 0.027). Lung adenocarcinomas with EGFR amplification have a unique association with exon 19 deletion mutations and show distinct clinicopathologic features associated with a significantly worsened prognosis. In these cases, EGFR amplification is heterogeneously distributed, mostly in areas with a solid histology.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-2477

    View details for Web of Science ID 000271403000017

    View details for PubMedID 19826035

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2783286

  • Discordance of Molecular Biomarkers Associated with Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Pathway between Primary Tumors and Lymph Node Metastasis in Non-small Cell Lung Cancer JOURNAL OF THORACIC ONCOLOGY Park, S., Holmes-Tisch, A. J., Cho, E., Shim, Y., Kim, J., Kim, H., Lee, J., Park, Y., Ahn, J., Park, K., Jaenne, P. A., Ahn, M. 2009; 4 (7): 809–15


    For the identification of the patients who most likely benefit from epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), molecular assays are considered to be of paramount importance. Given the heterogeneity of NSCLC at the molecular level, this study was conducted to determine the discrepancy in EGFR mutations between primary tumors and the corresponding lymph node metastasis.Surgically resected 101 paired primary NSCLC and metastatic lymph nodes were evaluated for the EGFR mutations by direct DNA sequencing and heteroduplex analysis.EGFR mutation was detected in 29.7% (30 of 101) of the primary tumors and in 27.7% of lymph node metastases (28 of 101) by either direct sequencing or heteroduplex analysis, respectively. By direct sequencing, 12 cases (11.9%) showed discordance in EGFR mutations between primary tumors and metastasis. In 11 cases, EGFR mutations were detected only in the primary tumor, whereas 1 case only in lymph node metastases. By heteroduplex analysis, 17 cases (16.8%) were discordant. Ten cases were primary tumor positive and lymph node negative, whereas seven cases were lymph node positive and primary tumor negative.A considerable proportion of NSCLC showed discrepancy in EGFR mutations between primary tumors and metastatic lymph nodes, suggesting tumor heterogeneity at the molecular level during the process of metastasis.

    View details for DOI 10.1097/JTO.0b013e3181a94af4

    View details for Web of Science ID 000267386000007

    View details for PubMedID 19487967

  • Autocrine Production of Amphiregulin Predicts Sensitivity to Both Gefitinib and Cetuximab in EGFR Wild-type Cancers CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH Yonesaka, K., Zejnullahu, K., Lindeman, N., Homes, A. J., Jackman, D. M., Zhao, F., Rogers, A. M., Johnson, B. E., Jaenne, P. A. 2008; 14 (21): 6963–73


    Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors, gefitinib and erlotinib, lead to significant tumor regressions in 10% to 15% of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with EGFR activating mutations. However, 30% to 40% of NSCLC patients, majority of whom are EGFR wild-type, develop stable disease following EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy. EGFR-directed antibodies (cetuximab) are effective treatments for head and neck squamous cell carcinomas, which seldom contain EGFR mutations. The determinant(s) of efficacy of EGFR-targeted therapies in EGFR wild-type cancers is not well defined.We examined the relationship of EGFR ligands, EGF, transforming growth factor-alpha,and amphiregulin and the efficacy of gefitinib and cetuximab in EGFR wild-type NSCLC (n=10) and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (n=4) cell lines. We compared amphiregulin expression using immunohistochemistry in EGFR wild-type NSCLC patients (n=24) that developed either stable or progressive disease following erlotinib or gefitinib treatment.Cell lines which produced >or=20 pmol/L amphiregulin, as detected by an ELISA, were significantly more likely to be growth inhibited by both gefitinib and cetuximab than those that produced minimal or no amphiregulin. In these cell lines, both cetuximab and gefitinib led to cell cycle arrest at the G(1)-S boundary and was associated with preferential inhibition of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 but not Akt signaling. Amphiregulin expression was significantly higher in NSCLC patients that developed stable disease compared with those that developed disease progression following gefitinib or erlotinib treatment.Amphiregulin expression may help select EGFR wild-type patients who are likely to develop stable disease from EGFR-targeted therapies.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-0957

    View details for Web of Science ID 000260732200030

    View details for PubMedID 18980991

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3227691

  • EML4-ALK fusion gene and efficacy of an ALK kinase inhibitor in lung cancer CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH Koivunen, J. P., Mermel, C., Zejnullahu, K., Murphy, C., Lifshits, E., Holmes, A. J., Choi, H., Kim, J., Chiang, D., Thomas, R., Lee, J., Richards, W. G., Sugarbaker, D. J., Ducko, C., Lindeman, N., Marcoux, J., Engelman, J. A., Gray, N. S., Lee, C., Meyerson, M., Janne, P. A. 2008; 14 (13): 4275–83


    The EML4-ALK fusion gene has been detected in approximately 7% of Japanese non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). We determined the frequency of EML4-ALK in Caucasian NSCLC and in NSCLC cell lines. We also determined whether TAE684, a specific ALK kinase inhibitor, would inhibit the growth of EML4-ALK-containing cell lines in vitro and in vivo.We screened 305 primary NSCLC [both U.S. (n = 138) and Korean (n = 167) patients] and 83 NSCLC cell lines using reverse transcription-PCR and by exon array analyses. We evaluated the efficacy of TAE684 against NSCLC cell lines in vitro and in vivo.We detected four different variants, including two novel variants, of EML4-ALK using reverse transcription-PCR in 8 of 305 tumors (3%) and 3 of 83 (3.6%) NSCLC cell lines. All EML4-ALK-containing tumors and cell lines were adenocarcinomas. EML4-ALK was detected more frequently in NSCLC patients who were never or light (<10 pack-years) cigarette smokers compared with current/former smokers (6% versus 1%; P = 0.049). TAE684 inhibited the growth of one of three (H3122) EML4-ALK-containing cell lines in vitro and in vivo, inhibited Akt phosphorylation, and caused apoptosis. In another EML4-ALK cell line, DFCI032, TAE684 was ineffective due to coactivation of epidermal growth factor receptor and ERBB2. The combination of TAE684 and CL-387,785 (epidermal growth factor receptor/ERBB2 kinase inhibitor) inhibited growth and Akt phosphorylation and led to apoptosis in the DFCI032 cell line.EML4-ALK is found in the minority of NSCLC. ALK kinase inhibitors alone or in combination may nevertheless be clinically effective treatments for NSCLC patients whose tumors contain EML4-ALK.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-0168

    View details for Web of Science ID 000257377300034

    View details for PubMedID 18594010

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3025451

  • Are there any ethnic differences in molecular predictors of erlotinib efficacy in advanced non-small cell lung cancer? Ahn, M., Park, B., Ahn, J., Kim, S., Kim, H., Lee, J., Kang, J., Cho, J., Song, H., Park, S., Sohn, C., Shin, S., Choi, J., Ki, C., Park, C., Holmes, A. J., Janne, P. A., Park, K. AMER ASSOC CANCER RESEARCH. 2008: 3860–66


    This study investigated possible molecular predictors of outcome in Korean patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer treated with erlotinib.One hundred and twenty patients received erlotinib and were followed prospectively. Ninety-two tissue samples were analyzed for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutations (exons 18, 19, and 21), 88 for EGFR gene amplification by real-time PCR, and 75 for EGFR protein expression by immunohistochemistry.The overall tumor response rate was 24.2% (complete response, 4; partial response, 25) with 56.7% of disease control rate. With a median follow-up of 23.6 months, the median time to progression (TTP) was 2.7 months and the median overall survival was 12.9 months. EGFR gene mutations were found in 26.1% (24 of 92), EGFR gene amplification in 40.9% (36 of 88), and EGFR protein expression in 72% (54 of 75). There was a strong association between EGFR gene mutations and gene amplification (gamma = 0.241). Patients with EGFR gene mutations or gene amplification showed both better response rate (58.3% versus 16.2%, P < 0.001; 41.7% versus 17.3%, P = 0.012) and TTP (8.6 versus 2.5 months, P = 0.003; 5.8 versus 1.8 months, P < 0.001) and overall survival (not reached versus 10.8 months, P = 0.023; not reached versus 10.1 months, P = 0.033). By multivariate analysis, EGFR gene mutation was the only significant molecular predictor for TTP (hazard ratio, 0.47; 95% confidence interval, 0.25-0.89).Our findings indicate that EGFR gene mutation is a more predictive marker for improved TTP than EGFR gene amplification in erlotinib-treated Korean non-small cell lung cancer patients. Prospective studies from diverse ethnic backgrounds are required to determine the exact role of these molecular markers.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-07-4608

    View details for Web of Science ID 000256779100032

    View details for PubMedID 18559606

  • Prospective study of gefitinib in epidermal growth factor receptor fluorescence in situ hybridization-positive/phospho-akt-positive or never smoker patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer: The ONCOBELL trial JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY Cappuzzo, F., Ligorio, C., Jaenne, P. A., Toschi, L., Rossi, E., Trisolini, R., Paioli, D., Holmes, A. J., Magrini, E., Finocchiaro, G., Bartolini, S., Cancellieri, A., Ciardiello, F., Patelli, M., Crino, L., Varella-Garcia, M. 2007; 25 (16): 2248–55


    In non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), clinical and biologic predictors for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor sensitivity have been identified in retrospective studies, and there is urgent need to validate these results in prospective trials. The ONCOBELL trial is a prospective phase II study evaluating gefitinib sensitivity in NSCLC patients who never smoked or have increased EGFR gene copy number or activation of the antiapoptotic protein Akt.EGFR gene copy number was evaluated using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), and presence of phospho-Akt was evaluated using immunohistochemistry. Additional tests included immunohistochemistry analysis of EGFR, FISH analysis of HER2, and mutation analysis of EGFR, HER2, and K-ras.From November 2004 to February 2006, 183 patients were screened, and 42 patients were enrolled onto the trial. We observed one complete and 19 partial responses, for an overall response rate (RR) of 47.6% (95% CI, 32.5% to 62.7%). Median duration of response was 6.1 months, median time to progression (TTP) was 6.4 months, 1-year survival rate was 64.3%, and median survival time was not reached. EGFR FISH-positive patients, compared with negative patients, had higher RR (68.0% v 9.1%, respectively; P < .001), longer TTP (7.6 v 2.7 months, respectively; P = .02), and a trend for longer survival (median survival not reached v 7.4 months, respectively; P = .3). Therapy was well tolerated, and there were no drug-related deaths. Median follow-up time was too short for significance tests of differences in survival outcomes.Gefitinib is active and well tolerated in patients with trial characteristics, and EGFR FISH analysis is an accurate predictor for such therapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1200/JCO.2006.09.4300

    View details for Web of Science ID 000247010400018

    View details for PubMedID 17538169

  • MET amplification leads to gefitinib resistance in lung cancer by activating ERBB3 signaling SCIENCE Engelman, J. A., Zejnullahu, K., Mitsudomi, T., Song, Y., Hyland, C., Park, J., Lindeman, N., Gale, C., Zhao, X., Christensen, J., Kosaka, T., Holmes, A. J., Rogers, A. M., Cappuzzo, F., Mok, T., Lee, C., Johnson, B. E., Cantley, L. C., Janne, P. A. 2007; 316 (5827): 1039–43


    The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) kinase inhibitors gefitinib and erlotinib are effective treatments for lung cancers with EGFR activating mutations, but these tumors invariably develop drug resistance. Here, we describe a gefitinib-sensitive lung cancer cell line that developed resistance to gefitinib as a result of focal amplification of the MET proto-oncogene. inhibition of MET signaling in these cells restored their sensitivity to gefitinib. MET amplification was detected in 4 of 18 (22%) lung cancer specimens that had developed resistance to gefitinib or erlotinib. We find that amplification of MET causes gefitinib resistance by driving ERBB3 (HER3)-dependent activation of PI3K, a pathway thought to be specific to EGFR/ERBB family receptors. Thus, we propose that MET amplification may promote drug resistance in other ERBB-driven cancers as well.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1141478

    View details for Web of Science ID 000246554000050

    View details for PubMedID 17463250

  • Phase II clinical trial of chemotherapy-naive patients >= 70 years of age treated with erlotinib for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY Jackman, D. M., Yeap, B. Y., Lindeman, N. I., Fidias, P., Rabin, M. S., Temel, J., Skarin, A. T., Meyerson, M., Holmes, A. J., Borras, A. M., Freidlin, B., Ostler, P. A., Lucca, J., Lynch, T. J., Johnson, B. E., Jaenne, P. A. 2007; 25 (7): 760–66


    This is a phase II, multicenter, open-label study of chemotherapy-naïve patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and age > or = 70 years who were treated with erlotinib and evaluated to determine the median, 1-year, and 2-year survival. The secondary end points include radiographic response rate, time to progression (TTP), toxicity, and symptom improvement.Eligible patients with NSCLC were treated with erlotinib 150 mg/d until disease progression or significant toxicity. Tumor response was assessed every 8 weeks by computed tomography scan using Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors. Tumor samples were analyzed for the presence of somatic mutations in EGFR and KRAS.Eighty eligible patients initiated erlotinib therapy between March 2003 and May 2005. There were eight partial responses (10%), and an additional 33 patients (41%) had stable disease for 2 months or longer. The median TTP was 3.5 months (95% CI, 2.0 to 5.5 months). The median survival time was 10.9 months (95% CI, 7.8 to 14.6 months). The 1- and 2- year survival rates were 46% and 19%, respectively. The most common toxicities were acneiform rash (79%) and diarrhea (69%). Four patients developed interstitial lung disease of grade 3 or higher, with one treatment-related death. EGFR mutations were detected in nine of 43 patients studied. The presence of an EGFR mutation was strongly correlated with disease control, prolonged TTP, and survival.Erlotinib monotherapy is active and relatively well tolerated in chemotherapy-naïve elderly patients with advanced NSCLC. Erlotinib merits consideration for further investigation as a first-line therapeutic option in elderly patients.

    View details for DOI 10.1200/JCO.2006.07.5754

    View details for Web of Science ID 000244884600005

    View details for PubMedID 17228019

  • Response and resistance in a non-small-cell lung cancer patient with an epidermal growth factor receptor mutation and leptomeningeal metastases treated with high-dose gefitinib JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY Jackman, D. M., Holmes, A. J., Lindeman, N., Wen, P. Y., Kesari, S., Borras, A. M., Bailey, C., de Jong, F., Jaenne, P. A., Johnson, B. E. 2006; 24 (27): 4517–20

    View details for DOI 10.1200/JCO.2006.06.6126

    View details for Web of Science ID 000240708200025

    View details for PubMedID 16983123

  • Exon 19 deletion mutations of epidermal growth factor receptor are associated with prolonged survival in non-small cell lung cancer patients treated with gefitinib or erlotinib CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH Jackman, D. M., Yeap, B. Y., Sequist, L. V., Lindeman, N., Holmes, A. J., Joshi, V. A., Bell, D. W., Huberman, M. S., Halmos, B., Rabin, M. S., Haber, D. A., Lynch, T. J., Meyerson, M., Johnson, B. E., Jaenne, P. A. 2006; 12 (13): 3908–14


    Somatic mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) have been detected in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and are associated with sensitivity to treatment with gefitinib or erlotinib. Our study explored the relationship between the two most common types of somatic EGFR mutations, exon 19 deletions and the L858R point mutation, and outcomes of patients following treatment with gefitinib or erlotinib.Tumor specimens obtained before treatment with gefitinib or erlotinib were analyzed for EGFR mutations. Patients with exon 19 deletion or L858R mutations were identified. The response rate, time to progression, and overall survival were determined for the two groups.We identified 36 patients with NSCLC and an EGFR mutation who were treated with gefitinib or erlotinib. Patients with an exon 19 deletion had a significantly longer overall survival compared with patients with an L858R mutation (38 versus 17 months; P = 0.04). There were also trends toward higher response rate (73% versus 50%) and improved time to progression (24 versus 10 months) for the patients with an exon 19 deletion, although these were not independently significant in a multivariate analysis. A difference in response rate for patients treated with gefitinib compared with erlotinib was also noted [18 of 23 (78%) versus 3 of 9 (33%); P = 0.04]. No obvious difference in time to progression or overall survival was noted between gefitinib- and erlotinib-treated patients.Patients with NSCLC and EGFR exon 19 deletions have a longer survival following treatment with gefitinib or erlotinib compared with those with the L858R mutation. Pooling of greater numbers of patients and completion of prospective trials are needed to further define the predictive and prognostic roles of different EGFR mutations with respect to treatment with gefitinib, erlotinib, and other EGFR inhibitors.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-06-0462

    View details for Web of Science ID 000238930500008

    View details for PubMedID 16818686