Honors & Awards

  • Preparing Future Professor (PFP) Fellow, Stanford University (2023)
  • NEXT Award, Biodesign for Digital Health, Stanford University (2022-2023)
  • Leader of Tomorrow, GAP Summit at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (2019)
  • STEM for Britain, House of Commons, UK (2019)
  • Ignition Award - Innovation Optimiser, University of Manchester Intellectual Property, UK (2019)
  • PhD Fellowship, University of Manchester, UK (2015-2019)
  • PhD Fellowship, Weizmann UK (2016-2018)
  • Diploma for Research, Romanian Ambassador to the UK (2016)
  • Academic Excellence Award, LSRS Romania (2015)

Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Manchester (2019)
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery, Iuliu Hatieganu Univ of Med & Pharm Cluj- Napoca (2015)
  • Postdoctoral, Harvard University, School of Dental Medicine, Oral Medicine, Infection, and Immunity
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Manchester/United Kingdom and Weizmann Institute of Science/Israel, Molecular and Cancer Studies (2019)
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoca/Romania, Dental Medicine (2015)
  • Master in Business, Lucian Blaga University, Sibiu/Romania, Business (2015)
  • BSc, Lucian Blaga University, Sibiu/Romania, Economics-Management (2013)

Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • Oral Neutrophil Free Fatty Acid Receptors Expression May Link Oral Host and Microbiome Lipid Metabolism. Frontiers in oral health Wzatek, M., Bahammam, S., Buiga, P., Haddad, K., Sima, C. 2022; 3: 821326


    In health, commensal bacteria from oral biofilms stimulate polymorphonuclear neutrophil (PMN) recruitment in gingival sulci and the oral cavity. Oral PMN (oPMN) is short-lived cells with low prosurvival gene expression. In periodontitis, oPMN accumulates in higher numbers, has extended lifespan, and sustains nonresolving inflammation. We hypothesize that short- and long-chain free fatty acids (SCFAs and LCFAs) and lipid mediator resolvin E1 (RvE1) modulate host ability to control biofilms and resolve inflammation. Our objective was to measure oPMN surface expression of receptors FFAR2 (binds bacteria-derived SCFA), FFAR4 (binds LCFA, EPA, and DHA), and ERV1 (binds RvE1) in health and to assess sex differences. We included 20 periodontally healthy individuals aged 20-80 years (10 males, 10 females), who were asked to (1) answer a targeted health nutritional questionnaire and (2) provide an oral saline rinse. oPMN isolated by sequential filtration was labeled with fluorophore-conjugated antibodies against CD11b, CD14, CD16, CD66b, ERV1, FFAR2, and FFAR4 and analyzed by flow cytometry. Statistical analyses were the following: two-way ANOVA, Tukey's test, and Pearson's correlation. Oral rinses contained 80% oPMN of which 60% were ERV1+ and FFAR2+, and 10% FFAR4+, with no sex differences. Females had more oPMN ERV1 compared to males. Both sexes had higher ERV1 compared to FFAR2 and FFAR4. CD66b+CD16high oPMN expressed less ERV1 and FFAR2 compared to CD66b+CD16low. There were positive correlations between oPMN ERV1 and FFAR2 expression and between ERV1+ and FFAR2+ oPMN and fish intake. These findings will help to better understand how oral host and microbiome interactions maintain periodontal health.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/froh.2022.821326

    View details for PubMedID 35320973

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8937037

  • Kinetic Modeling of DUSP Regulation in Herceptin-Resistant HER2-Positive Breast Cancer Buiga, P., Elson, A., Tabernero, L., Schwartz, J. MDPI. 2019


    HER2 (human epidermal growth factor 2)-positive breast cancer is an aggressive type of breast cancer characterized by the overexpression of the receptor-type protein tyrosine kinase HER2 or amplification of the HER2 gene. It is commonly treated by the drug trastuzumab (Herceptin), but resistance to its action frequently develops and limits its therapeutic benefit. Dual-specificity phosphatases (DUSPs) were previously highlighted as central regulators of HER2 signaling; therefore, understanding their role is crucial to designing new strategies to improve the efficacy of Herceptin treatment. We investigated whether inhibiting certain DUSPs re-sensitized Herceptin-resistant breast cancer cells to the drug. We built a series of kinetic models incorporating the key players of HER2 signaling pathways and simulating a range of inhibition intensities. The simulation results were compared to live tumor cells in culture, and showed good agreement with the experimental analyses. In particular, we observed that Herceptin-resistant DUSP16-silenced breast cancer cells became more responsive to the drug when treated for 72 h with Herceptin, showing a decrease in resistance, in agreement with the model predictions. Overall, we showed that the kinetic modeling of signaling pathways is able to generate predictions that assist experimental research in the identification of potential targets for cancer treatment.

    View details for DOI 10.3390/genes10080568

    View details for Web of Science ID 000483744500063

    View details for PubMedID 31357550

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6723192

  • Modelling the role of dual specificity phosphatases in herceptin resistant breast cancer cell lines COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY AND CHEMISTRY Buiga, P., Elson, A., Tabernero, L., Schwartz, J. 2019; 80: 138-146


    Breast cancer remains the most lethal type of cancer for women. A significant proportion of breast cancer cases are characterised by overexpression of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 protein (HER2). These cancers are commonly treated by Herceptin (Trastuzumab), but resistance to drug treatment frequently develops in tumour cells. Dual-specificity phosphatases (DUSPs) are thought to play a role in the mechanism of resistance, since some of them were reported to be overexpressed in tumours resistant to Herceptin.We used a systems biology approach to investigate how DUSP overexpression could favour cell proliferation and to predict how this mechanism could be reversed by targeted inhibition of selected DUSPs. We measured the expression of 20 DUSP genes in two breast cancer cell lines following long-term (6 months) exposure to Herceptin, after confirming that these cells had become resistant to the drug. We constructed several Boolean models including specific substrates of each DUSP, and showed that our models correctly account for resistance when overexpressed DUSPs were kept activated. We then simulated inhibition of both individual and combinations of DUSPs, and determined conditions under which the resistance could be reversed.These results show how a combination of experimental analysis and modelling help to understand cell survival mechanisms in breast cancer tumours, and crucially enable us to generate testable predictions potentially leading to new treatments of resistant tumours.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.compbiolchem.2019.03.018

    View details for Web of Science ID 000474314000015

    View details for PubMedID 30952040

  • Regulation of dual specificity phosphatases in breast cancer during initial treatment with Herceptin: a Boolean model analysis Buiga, P., Elson, A., Tabernero, L., Schwartz, J. BMC. 2018: 11


    25% of breast cancer patients suffer from aggressive HER2-positive tumours that are characterised by overexpression of the HER2 protein or by its increased tyrosine kinase activity. Herceptin is a major drug used to treat HER2 positive breast cancer. Understanding the molecular events that occur when breast cancer cells are exposed to Herceptin is therefore of significant importance. Dual specificity phosphatases (DUSPs) are central regulators of cell signalling that function downstream of HER2, but their role in the cellular response to Herceptin is mostly unknown. This study aims to model the initial effects of Herceptin exposure on DUSPs in HER2-positive breast cancer cells using Boolean modelling.We experimentally measured expression time courses of 21 different DUSPs between 0 and 24 h following Herceptin treatment of human MDA-MB-453 HER2-positive breast cancer cells. We clustered these time courses into patterns of similar dynamics over time. In parallel, we built a series of Boolean models representing the known regulatory mechanisms of DUSPs and then demonstrated that the dynamics predicted by the models is in agreement with the experimental data. Furthermore, we used the models to predict regulatory mechanisms of DUSPs, where these mechanisms were partially known.Boolean modelling is a powerful technique to investigate and understand signalling pathways. We obtained an understanding of different regulatory pathways in breast cancer and new insights on how these signalling pathways are activated. This method can be generalized to other drugs and longer time courses to better understand how resistance to drugs develops in cancer cells over time.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s12918-018-0534-5

    View details for Web of Science ID 000430982500002

    View details for PubMedID 29671404

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5907139

  • A meta-analysis portal for human breast cancer transcriptomics data: BreastCancerVis Buiga, P., Soul, J., Schwartz, J., Zheng, H., Callejas, Z., Griol, D., Wang, H., Hu, Schmidt, H., Baumbach, J., Dickerson, J., Zhang, L. IEEE. 2018: 260-264
  • Hydrolytic and lysozymic degradability of chitosan systems with heparin-mimicking pendant groups MATERIALS LETTERS Tronci, G., Buiga, P., Alhilou, A., Do, T., Russell, S. J., Wood, D. J. 2017; 188: 359-363
  • Premalignant SOX2 overexpression in the fallopian tubes of ovarian cancer patients: Discovery and validation studies EBIOMEDICINE Hellner, K., Miranda, F., Chedom, D., Herrero-Gonzalez, S., Hayden, D. M., Tearle, R., Artibani, M., KaramiNejadRanjbar, M., illiams, R., Gaitskell, K., Elorbany, S., Xu, R., Laios, A., Buiga, P., Ahmed, K., Dhar, S., Zhang, R., Campo, L., Myers, K. A., Lozano, M., Ruiz-Miro, M., Gatius, S., Mota, A., Moreno-Bueno, G., Matias-Guiu, X., Benitez, J., Witty, L., McVean, G., Leedham, S., Tomlinson, I., Drmanac, R., Cazier, J., Klein, R., Dunne, K., Bast, R. C., Kennedy, S. H., Hassan, B., Lise, S., Jose Garcia, M., Peters, B. A., Yau, C., Sauka-Spengler, T., Ahmed, A. 2016; 10: 137-149


    Current screening methods for ovarian cancer can only detect advanced disease. Earlier detection has proved difficult because the molecular precursors involved in the natural history of the disease are unknown. To identify early driver mutations in ovarian cancer cells, we used dense whole genome sequencing of micrometastases and microscopic residual disease collected at three time points over three years from a single patient during treatment for high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC). The functional and clinical significance of the identified mutations was examined using a combination of population-based whole genome sequencing, targeted deep sequencing, multi-center analysis of protein expression, loss of function experiments in an in-vivo reporter assay and mammalian models, and gain of function experiments in primary cultured fallopian tube epithelial (FTE) cells. We identified frequent mutations involving a 40kb distal repressor region for the key stem cell differentiation gene SOX2. In the apparently normal FTE, the region was also mutated. This was associated with a profound increase in SOX2 expression (p<2(-16)), which was not found in patients without cancer (n=108). Importantly, we show that SOX2 overexpression in FTE is nearly ubiquitous in patients with HGSOCs (n=100), and common in BRCA1-BRCA2 mutation carriers (n=71) who underwent prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy. We propose that the finding of SOX2 overexpression in FTE could be exploited to develop biomarkers for detecting disease at a premalignant stage, which would reduce mortality from this devastating disease.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.06.048

    View details for Web of Science ID 000386877700025

    View details for PubMedID 27492892

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5006641

  • Clinical and histological characterization of an aggressive periodontitis case associated with unusual root canal curvatures. Romanian journal of morphology and embryology = Revue roumaine de morphologie et embryologie Stratul, Ş. I., Roman, A., Şurlin, P., Petruţiu, Ş. A., Buiga, P., Mihu, C. M. 2015; 56 (2): 589-96


    The article presents the histological and clinical characteristics in a severe generalized aggressive periodontitis case associated with multiple root curvatures and the complex therapeutic approach of the severe periodontal destructions. The patient received a complex therapy, including periodontal non-surgical, regenerative and reconstructive approaches, and also endodontic and prosthetic treatments. Recall appointments were fixed at 3-month intervals. One year after the finalization of the active therapy, a hyperplasic, inflamed interdental papilla associated with a recurrent clinical attachment loss was diagnosed at the mesial aspect of the right maxillary second premolar. A biopsy was harvested for histological examination and the recurrent site was treated. The histological study revealed important modifications of the epithelial layer and of the connective tissue of the gingiva. An extremely accentuated pattern of the gingival rete ridges at the epithelial-connective tissue junction, the presence of inflammatory cells infiltrating the epithelial layer and lamina propria and the disorganization of the fascicules of collagen fibers were observed. The inflammatory infiltrate was dominated by plasma and monocytic-like cells as immunohistochemical analyses highlighted. The complex therapeutic approach led to a satisfactory aesthetic and functional outcome. The severe root curvatures may be an unusual trait in this generalized aggressive periodontitis case substantially increasing the amount and the costs of non-periodontal procedures. In this case, the cell make-up of the inflammatory infiltrate and the paucity of collagen in the infiltrated tissue portions are considered to correspond to a fully developed recurrent lesion.

    View details for PubMedID 26193235

  • Degenerative alterations of the cementum-periodontal ligament complex and early tooth loss in a young patient with periodontal disease. Romanian journal of morphology and embryology = Revue roumaine de morphologie et embryologie Petruţiu, S. A., Buiga, P., Roman, A., Danciu, T., Mihu, C. M., Mihu, D. 2012; 53 (4): 1087-91


    Premature exfoliation of primary or permanent teeth in children or adolescents is extremely rare and it can be a manifestation of an underlying systemic disease. This study aims to present the histological aspects associated with early tooth loss in a case of periodontal disease developed without local inflammation and with minimal periodontal pockets and attachment loss. The maxillary left second premolar was extracted together with a gingival collar attached to the root surface. The histological analysis recorded the resorption of the cementum in multiple areas of the entire root surface with the connective tissue of the desmodontium invading the lacunae defects. The connective tissue rich in cells occupied the periodontal ligamentar space and the resorptive areas. No inflammation was obvious in the periodontal ligament connective tissue. This report may warn clinicians about the possibility of the association of cemental abnormalities with early tooth loss.

    View details for PubMedID 23303038