BioMaths Colloquium Series – 2021/22
4 May 2022 – 3pm Online (register here for Zoom link)
Tumour biology understood through mathematics, data science, and genomics
Our BioMaths Colloquium Series continues with a seminar by Andrew Dhawan from the Neurology Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA. Andrew is a final-year adult neurology resident at the Cleveland Clinic, and prior to this he completed his DPhil at St. Hugh’s College, University of Oxford under the supervision of Dr. Francesca Buffa, Dr. Adrian Harris, and Dr. Jacob Scott (Cleveland Clinic), supported by the Clarendon Fund and Cancer Research UK. He is an incoming fellow in neuro-oncology at the Rose Ella Burkhardt Brain Tumour and Neuro-oncology Centre at the Cleveland Clinic, with the goal of becoming an independent physician-scientist. In addition to brain and spinal cord tumours, his clinical interests span neurometabolic and neurogenetic diseases. He is the recipient of a young investigator award from the PTEN Research Foundation to design clinical care guidelines for the neurological issues facing patients with PTEN hamartoma tumour syndrome. After fellowship, he plans to establish a research program examining primary tumours of the central nervous system at the level of non-coding RNA with a combined approach involving genomic data, mathematical modelling, and experimental systems.
Tumour behaviour and, to a degree, clinical outcomes in patients with cancer, are driven by cellular programs of aggressive phenotypes such as invasiveness, dedifferentiation, and therapeutic resistance. The activity of these cellular programs can be interrogated at the level of the individual tumour, and in some cases, the individual tumour cells, as measured by RNA sequencing. In addition, RNA sequencing technology is now able to robustly profile many species of RNA, including not only classical messenger RNA, but also microRNA, long non-coding RNA, and circular RNA, all of which are non-coding RNA molecules (not carrying the blueprint for a protein). The expression of non-coding RNA species, which regulate and mediate the expression of protein-coding messenger RNA, their interactions with each other, and their dynamics, can all be measured relatively inexpensively and at scale across patients. In this talk, I will present some of my work examining the expression of non-coding RNA across thousands of patients, how inferring their interactions may help us better understand tumour biology, and the unique dynamical system behaviours that may arise as a result of these interactions.