Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University Of East Anglia (2017)
  • Bachelor of Science, University Alexandre Ioan Cuza of Iasi (2011)

All Publications

  • Atlas of clinically distinct cell states and ecosystems across human solid tumors. Cell Luca, B. A., Steen, C. B., Matusiak, M., Azizi, A., Varma, S., Zhu, C., Przybyl, J., Espín-Pérez, A., Diehn, M., Alizadeh, A. A., van de Rijn, M., Gentles, A. J., Newman, A. M. 2021


    Determining how cells vary with their local signaling environment and organize into distinct cellular communities is critical for understanding processes as diverse as development, aging, and cancer. Here we introduce EcoTyper, a machine learning framework for large-scale identification and validation of cell states and multicellular communities from bulk, single-cell, and spatially resolved gene expression data. When applied to 12 major cell lineages across 16 types of human carcinoma, EcoTyper identified 69 transcriptionally defined cell states. Most states were specific to neoplastic tissue, ubiquitous across tumor types, and significantly prognostic. By analyzing cell-state co-occurrence patterns, we discovered ten clinically distinct multicellular communities with unexpectedly strong conservation, including three with myeloid and stromal elements linked to adverse survival, one enriched in normal tissue, and two associated with early cancer development. This study elucidates fundamental units of cellular organization in human carcinoma and provides a framework for large-scale profiling of cellular ecosystems in any tissue.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2021.09.014

    View details for PubMedID 34597583

  • The landscape of tumor cell states and ecosystems in diffuse large B cell lymphoma. Cancer cell Steen, C. B., Luca, B. A., Esfahani, M. S., Azizi, A., Sworder, B. J., Nabet, B. Y., Kurtz, D. M., Liu, C. L., Khameneh, F., Advani, R. H., Natkunam, Y., Myklebust, J. H., Diehn, M., Gentles, A. J., Newman, A. M., Alizadeh, A. A. 2021


    Biological heterogeneity in diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is partly driven by cell-of-origin subtypes and associated genomic lesions, but also by diverse cell types and cell states in the tumor microenvironment (TME). However, dissecting these cell states and their clinical relevance at scale remains challenging. Here, we implemented EcoTyper, a machine-learning framework integrating transcriptome deconvolution and single-cell RNA sequencing, to characterize clinically relevant DLBCL cell states and ecosystems. Using this approach, we identified five cell states of malignant B cells that vary in prognostic associations and differentiation status. We also identified striking variation in cell states for 12 other lineages comprising the TME and forming cell state interactions in stereotyped ecosystems. While cell-of-origin subtypes have distinct TME composition, DLBCL ecosystems capture clinical heterogeneity within existing subtypes and extend beyond cell-of-origin and genotypic classes. These results resolve the DLBCL microenvironment at systems-level resolution and identify opportunities for therapeutic targeting (

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ccell.2021.08.011

    View details for PubMedID 34597589

  • T cell characteristics associated with toxicity to immune checkpoint blockade in patients with melanoma. Nature medicine Lozano, A. X., Chaudhuri, A. A., Nene, A., Bacchiocchi, A., Earland, N., Vesely, M. D., Usmani, A., Turner, B. E., Steen, C. B., Luca, B. A., Badri, T., Gulati, G. S., Vahid, M. R., Khameneh, F., Harris, P. K., Chen, D. Y., Dhodapkar, K., Sznol, M., Halaban, R., Newman, A. M. 2022


    Severe immune-related adverse events (irAEs) occur in up to 60% of patients with melanoma treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). However, it is unknown whether a common baseline immunological state precedes irAE development. Here we applied mass cytometry by time of flight, single-cell RNA sequencing, single-cell V(D)J sequencing, bulk RNA sequencing and bulk T cell receptor (TCR) sequencing to study peripheral blood samples from patients with melanoma treated with anti-PD-1 monotherapy or anti-PD-1 and anti-CTLA-4 combination ICIs. By analyzing 93 pre- and early on-ICI blood samples and 3 patient cohorts (n = 27, 26 and 18), we found that 2 pretreatment factors in circulation-activated CD4 memory T cell abundance and TCR diversity-are associated with severe irAE development regardless of organ system involvement. We also explored on-treatment changes in TCR clonality among patients receiving combination therapy and linked our findings to the severity and timing of irAE onset. These results demonstrate circulating T cell characteristics associated with ICI-induced toxicity, with implications for improved diagnostics and clinical management.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41591-021-01623-z

    View details for PubMedID 35027754

  • Landscape of innate lymphoid cells in human head and neck cancer reveals divergent NK cell states in the tumor microenvironment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Moreno-Nieves, U. Y., Tay, J. K., Saumyaa, S., Horowitz, N. B., Shin, J. H., Mohammad, I. A., Luca, B., Mundy, D. C., Gulati, G. S., Bedi, N., Chang, S., Chen, C., Kaplan, M. J., Rosenthal, E. L., Holsinger, F. C., Divi, V., Baik, F. M., Sirjani, D. B., Gentles, A. J., Newman, A. M., Freud, A. G., Sunwoo, J. B. 2021; 118 (28)


    Natural killer (NK) cells comprise one subset of the innate lymphoid cell (ILC) family. Despite reported antitumor functions of NK cells, their tangible contribution to tumor control in humans remains controversial. This is due to incomplete understanding of the NK cell states within the tumor microenvironment (TME). Here, we demonstrate that peripheral circulating NK cells differentiate down two divergent pathways within the TME, resulting in different end states. One resembles intraepithelial ILC1s (ieILC1) and possesses potent in vivo antitumor activity. The other expresses genes associated with immune hyporesponsiveness and has poor antitumor functional capacity. Interleukin-15 (IL-15) and direct contact between the tumor cells and NK cells are required for the differentiation into CD49a+CD103+ cells, resembling ieILC1s. These data explain the similarity between ieILC1s and tissue-resident NK cells, provide insight into the origin of ieILC1s, and identify the ieILC1-like cell state within the TME to be the NK cell phenotype with the greatest antitumor activity. Because the proportions of the different ILC states vary between tumors, these findings provide a resource for the clinical study of innate immune responses against tumors and the design of novel therapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.2101169118

    View details for PubMedID 34244432

  • Atlas of clinically-distinct cell states and cellular ecosystems across human solid tumors Luca, B. A., Steen, C. B., Azizi, A., Matusiak, M., Przybyl, J., Neishaboori, N., Perez, A., Diehn, M., Alizadeh, A. A., van de Rijn, M., Gentles, A. J., Newman, A. M. AMER ASSOC CANCER RESEARCH. 2020
  • Convergence of Prognostic Gene Signatures Suggests Underlying Mechanisms of Human Prostate Cancer Progression GENES Luca, B., Moulton, V., Ellis, C., Connell, S. P., Brewer, D. S., Cooper, C. S. 2020; 11 (7)


    The highly heterogeneous clinical course of human prostate cancer has prompted the development of multiple RNA biomarkers and diagnostic tools to predict outcome for individual patients. Biomarker discovery is often unstable with, for example, small changes in discovery dataset configuration resulting in large alterations in biomarker composition. Our hypothesis, which forms the basis of this current study, is that highly significant overlaps occurring between gene signatures obtained using entirely different approaches indicate genes fundamental for controlling cancer progression. For prostate cancer, we found two sets of signatures that had significant overlaps suggesting important genes (p < 10-34 for paired overlaps, hypergeometrical test). These overlapping signatures defined a core set of genes linking hormone signalling (HES6-AR), cell cycle progression (Prolaris) and a molecular subgroup of patients (PCS1) derived by Non Negative Matrix Factorization (NNMF) of control pathways, together designated as SIG-HES6. The second set (designated SIG-DESNT) consisted of the DESNT diagnostic signature and a second NNMF signature PCS3. Stratifications using SIG-HES6 (HES6, PCS1, Prolaris) and SIG-DESNT (DESNT) classifiers frequently detected the same individual high-risk cancers, indicating that the underlying mechanisms associated with SIG-HES6 and SIG-DESNT may act together to promote aggressive cancer development. We show that the use of combinations of a SIG-HES6 signature together with DESNT substantially increases the ability to predict poor outcome, and we propose a model for prostate cancer development involving co-operation between the SIG-HES6 and SIG-DESNT pathways that has implication for therapeutic design.

    View details for DOI 10.3390/genes11070802

    View details for Web of Science ID 000556381400001

    View details for PubMedID 32708551

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7397325

  • A novel stratification framework for predicting outcome in patients with prostate cancer BRITISH JOURNAL OF CANCER Luca, B., Moulton, V., Ellis, C., Edwards, D. R., Campbell, C., Cooper, R. A., Clark, J., Brewer, D. S., Cooper, C. S. 2020; 122 (10): 1467-1476


    Unsupervised learning methods, such as Hierarchical Cluster Analysis, are commonly used for the analysis of genomic platform data. Unfortunately, such approaches ignore the well-documented heterogeneous composition of prostate cancer samples. Our aim is to use more sophisticated analytical approaches to deconvolute the structure of prostate cancer transcriptome data, providing novel clinically actionable information for this disease.We apply an unsupervised model called Latent Process Decomposition (LPD), which can handle heterogeneity within individual cancer samples, to genome-wide expression data from eight prostate cancer clinical series, including 1,785 malignant samples with the clinical endpoints of PSA failure and metastasis.We show that PSA failure is correlated with the level of an expression signature called DESNT (HR = 1.52, 95% CI = [1.36, 1.7], P = 9.0 × 10-14, Cox model), and that patients with a majority DESNT signature have an increased metastatic risk (X2 test, P = 0.0017, and P = 0.0019). In addition, we develop a stratification framework that incorporates DESNT and identifies three novel molecular subtypes of prostate cancer.These results highlight the importance of using more complex approaches for the analysis of genomic data, may assist drug targeting, and have allowed the construction of a nomogram combining DESNT with other clinical factors for use in clinical management.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41416-020-0799-5

    View details for Web of Science ID 000520613600001

    View details for PubMedID 32203215

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7217762

  • Multiomic single cell analysis of normal human bone marrow identifies a unique stem and progenitor population that expands in AML Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research 2020 Ediriwickrema, A., Ramakrishnan, S., Nakamoto, M., Ghanekar, S., Luca, B., Newman, A., Gentles, A., Majeti, R. 2020
  • Atlas of clinically-distinct cell states and cellular ecosystems across human solid tumors Luca, B., Alizadeh, A., Diehn, M., Newman, A., Gentles, A., Steen, C. BMC. 2019
  • Determining cell type abundance and expression from bulk tissues with digital cytometry NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY Newman, A. M., Steen, C. B., Liu, C., Gentles, A. J., Chaudhuri, A. A., Scherer, F., Khodadoust, M. S., Esfahani, M. S., Luca, B. A., Steiner, D., Diehn, M., Alizadeh, A. A. 2019; 37 (7): 773-+
  • Determining cell type abundance and expression from bulk tissues with digital cytometry. Nature biotechnology Newman, A. M., Steen, C. B., Liu, C. L., Gentles, A. J., Chaudhuri, A. A., Scherer, F. n., Khodadoust, M. S., Esfahani, M. S., Luca, B. A., Steiner, D. n., Diehn, M. n., Alizadeh, A. A. 2019


    Single-cell RNA-sequencing has emerged as a powerful technique for characterizing cellular heterogeneity, but it is currently impractical on large sample cohorts and cannot be applied to fixed specimens collected as part of routine clinical care. We previously developed an approach for digital cytometry, called CIBERSORT, that enables estimation of cell type abundances from bulk tissue transcriptomes. We now introduce CIBERSORTx, a machine learning method that extends this framework to infer cell-type-specific gene expression profiles without physical cell isolation. By minimizing platform-specific variation, CIBERSORTx also allows the use of single-cell RNA-sequencing data for large-scale tissue dissection. We evaluated the utility of CIBERSORTx in multiple tumor types, including melanoma, where single-cell reference profiles were used to dissect bulk clinical specimens, revealing cell-type-specific phenotypic states linked to distinct driver mutations and response to immune checkpoint blockade. We anticipate that digital cytometry will augment single-cell profiling efforts, enabling cost-effective, high-throughput tissue characterization without the need for antibodies, disaggregation or viable cells.

    View details for PubMedID 31061481

  • DESNT: A Poor Prognosis Category of Human Prostate Cancer EUROPEAN UROLOGY FOCUS Luca, B., Brewer, D. S., Edwards, D. R., Edwards, S., Whitaker, H. C., Merson, S., Dennis, N., Cooper, R. A., Hazell, S., Warren, A. Y., Eeles, R., Lynch, A. G., Ross-Adams, H., Lamb, A. D., Neal, D. E., Sethia, K., Mills, R. D., Ball, R. Y., Curley, H., Clark, J., Moulton, V., Cooper, C. S., CancerMap Grp 2018; 4 (6): 842-850


    A critical problem in the clinical management of prostate cancer is that it is highly heterogeneous. Accurate prediction of individual cancer behaviour is therefore not achievable at the time of diagnosis leading to substantial overtreatment. It remains an enigma that, in contrast to breast cancer, unsupervised analyses of global expression profiles have not currently defined robust categories of prostate cancer with distinct clinical outcomes.To devise a novel classification framework for human prostate cancer based on unsupervised mathematical approaches.Our analyses are based on the hypothesis that previous attempts to classify prostate cancer have been unsuccessful because individual samples of prostate cancer frequently have heterogeneous compositions. To address this issue, we applied an unsupervised Bayesian procedure called Latent Process Decomposition to four independent prostate cancer transcriptome datasets obtained using samples from prostatectomy patients and containing between 78 and 182 participants.Biochemical failure was assessed using log-rank analysis and Cox regression analysis.Application of Latent Process Decomposition identified a common process in all four independent datasets examined. Cancers assigned to this process (designated DESNT cancers) are characterized by low expression of a core set of 45 genes, many encoding proteins involved in the cytoskeleton machinery, ion transport, and cell adhesion. For the three datasets with linked prostate-specific antigen failure data following prostatectomy, patients with DESNT cancer exhibited poor outcome relative to other patients (p=2.65×10-5, p=4.28×10-5, and p=2.98×10-8). When these three datasets were combined the independent predictive value of DESNT membership was p=1.61×10-7 compared with p=1.00×10-5 for Gleason sum. A limitation of the study is that only prediction of prostate-specific antigen failure was examined.Our results demonstrate the existence of a novel poor prognosis category of human prostate cancer and will assist in the targeting of therapy, helping avoid treatment-associated morbidity in men with indolent disease.Prostate cancer, unlike breast cancer, does not have a robust classification framework. We propose that this failure has occurred because prostate cancer samples selected for analysis frequently have heterozygous compositions (individual samples are made up of many different parts that each have different characteristics). Applying a mathematical approach that can overcome this problem we identify a novel poor prognosis category of human prostate cancer called DESNT.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.euf.2017.01.016

    View details for Web of Science ID 000486148900007

    View details for PubMedID 28753852

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5669460