Avrum Spira, M.D., M.Sc.

Professor of Medicine, Pathology, & Bioinformatics
Director, BU-BMC Cancer Center
Chief, Division of Computational Biomedicine

Medical School: McGill University
Internship: University of Toronto
Residency: University of Toronto
Fellowship: Boston University
Master’s/PhD programs: Masters Degree in Bioinformatics, College Of Engineering, Boston University
Board Certifications: Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, Critical Care Medicine

aspira AT bu.edu


Dr. Spira is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Medicine, and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He attends in the Medical Intensive Care Unit and on the Pulmonary/Critical Care Interventional service at Boston Medical Center . He directs the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Program in the Pulmonary Center and directs the Translational Bioinformatics Core in the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Boston University .

Dr. Spira’s laboratory research interests focus on applying high-throughput genomic and bioinformatics tools to the translational study of lung cancer and Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COPD). He is funded as a Principal Investigator through the NIH and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The primary research focus of our lab is to determine how cigarette smoking affects intra-thoracic (lobar bronchi) and extra-thoracic (mouth and nasal) airway epithelial cell gene 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. His lab has also begun to explore how this molecular “field of injury” in 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 NIH/NIEHS Genes and Environment Initiative. Additionally, his lab is interested in understanding the underlying mechanisms of smoking-related disease risk and is seeking to identify microRNA alterations and DNA polymorphisms that are associated with the gene-expression changes characterizing the airway field of injury.



Research Interests:

  • Lung cancer and COPD genomics
  • Smoking and airway gene expression
  • Bioinformatics
  • Critical Care Medicine
  • Pulmonary Medicine


Selected Publications:

  1. Beane J, Sebastiani P, Whitfield T, Steiling K, Lenburg M, Spira A . A Prediction Model for Lung Cancer Diagnosis that Integrates Clinical and Genomic Features. Cancer Prevention Research . 1: 56-64, 2008.
  2. Sridhar S, Schembri F, Zeskind J, Shah V, Gustafson A, Steiling K, Liu G, Dumas Y, Zhang S, Brody J, Lenburg M, Spira A . Smoking-induced gene expression changes in the bronchial airway are reflected in nasal and buccal epithelium. BMC Genomics . 9:259, 2008.
  3. Beane J, Sebastiani P, Liu G, Brody J, Lenburg M, Spira A . Reversible and Permanent Effects of Tobacco Smoke Exposure on Airway Epithelial Gene Expression. Genome Biology. 8: R201, 2007
  4. Millien G, Beane J, Lenburg M, Lu J, Spira A , Ramirez M. Characterization of the mid-foregut transcriptome identifies genes regulated during lung bud induction. Mechanisms of Development . 8:124-39, 2008
  5. Spira A , Beane J, Shah V, Steiling K, Liu G, Schembri F, Gilman S, Dumas Y, Calner P, Sebastiani P, Sridhar S, Beamis J, Lamb C, Keane J, Lenburg M, Brody J. Airway Epithelial Gene Expression in the Diagnostic Evaluation of Smokers with Suspect Lung Cancer. Nature Medicine. 13:361-6. 2007
  6. Zhang X, Liu G, Lenburg M, Spira A . Comparison of smoking-induced gene expression on Affymetrix exon and 3′ based expression arrays. Genome Informatics. 18:247-257, 2007
  7. Shah V., Sridhar S., Beane J., Brody J., Spira A. SIEGE: Smoking Induced Epithelial Gene Expression Database. Nucleic Acids Res. 33: D573-9. 2005
  8. Spira A*, Beane J*, Pinto-Plata V*, Kadar A, Liu G, Shah V, Celli B, Brody, J.S. Gene Expression Profiling of Human Lung Tissue from Smokers with Severe Emphysema. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 31: 601-610. 2004. *contributed equally and should be considered co-first authors
  9. Spira A, Beane J, Shah V, Liu G, Schembri F, Yang X, Palma J, Brody J. Effects of Cigarette Smoke on the Human Airway Epithelial Cell Transcriptome. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 101:10143-8, 2004
  10. Spira A, Beane J, Schembri F, Liu G, Yang X, Ding C, Gilman S, Cantor C, and Brody J. Noninvasive method for obtaining RNA from buccal mucosa epithelial cells for gene expression profiling. Biotechniques. 36:484-87, 2004
  11. Hoffman A, Awad T, Spira A, Palma J, Webster T, Wright G, Buckley J, Davis R, Hubbell E, Jones W, Tibshirani R, Tompkins R, Triche T, Xiao W ,West M, Warrington J. Expression profiling — best practices for data generation and interpretation in clinical trials. Nature Reviews Genetics. 5: 229-38, 2004.
  12. Spira A, Carroll D, Aziz Z, Liu G, Shah V, Kornfeld H, Keane J. Apoptosis Genes in Human Alveolar Macrophages Infected with Virulent or Attenuated M. tuberculosis. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 29(5):545-51, 2003
  13. Spira A*, Powell C*, Derti A, DeLisi C, Liu G, Borczuk A, Busche S, Sugarbaker D, Bueno R, Brody J. Gene Expression in lung adenocarcinomas of smokers and nonsmokers. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 29:157-162, 2003 *contributed equally and should be considered co-first authors


 Information retrieved from: www.bumc.bu.edu/pulmonary/people/avrumspira/