The Lung PCA: A Multi-Dimensional Atlas of Pulmonary Premalignancy

The Lung PCA: A Multi-Dimensional Atlas of Pulmonary Premalignancy is one of five research centers developing Pre-Cancer Atlases focused on unraveling the molecular underpinnings enabling the progression of pre-cancerous lesions to cancer. The Lung PCA is led by Dr. Avrum Spira (Boston University) and co-led by Dr. Steven Dubinett (University of California, Los Angeles), and Dr. Sarah Mazzilli (Boston University) in addition to collaborators across 10 institutions including: University of California Los Angeles; Stanford University; University of Colorado, Denver; MD Anderson Cancer Center; University College London; DFCI/Harvard University; Broad Institute; Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center; University of Pennsylvania; and Vanderbilt University. The Lung PCA aims to build a high-resolution atlas characterizing the earliest cellular and molecular alterations in pre-cancerous lesions of the airway and lung, providing new opportunities for early cancer detection and novel targets to intercept the development of lung cancer. The atlas leverages unique retrospective and prospective cohorts assembled at multiple medical centers via our Biospecimen Unit, led by Daniel Merrick of the University of Colorado, to collect, annotate, and process premalignant lesion biospecimens of the lung and airway. Our Characterization Unit, led by Steven Dubinett of UCLA, will apply existing and emerging molecular profiling tools to characterize the genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic landscape of these lesions. Our Data Analysis Unit, led by Marc Lenburg of Boston University, will develop pipelines for standardized multidimensional data processing, quality control, analysis and integration, leading to creation of a web-based portal for data dissemination and online integrative analysis to benefit the greater research community.

Principal Investigators


Dr. Avrum Spira is a Professor of Medicine, Pathology, and Bioinformatics, and the Alexander Graham Bell Professor in Health Care Entrepreneurship at Boston University. He is founding Chief of the Division of Computational Biomedicine in the Department of Medicine, attends in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Boston Medical Center, and directs the Translational Bioinformatics Program in the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Boston University. He has recently been named global head of the new Lung Cancer Initiative within Johnson & Johnson and Director of the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Lung Cancer Center at Boston University. Dr. Spira has built a translational research program that focuses on genomic alterations associated with smoking-related lung disease, leading to a molecular test for the early detection of lung cancer (PerceptaTM) that has successfully translated into the clinic as well as a novel therapeutic for COPD that is in preclinical development.


Dr. Steven M. Dubinett is Director of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI), Associate Vice Chancellor, and Senior Associate Dean for Translational Research. He oversees the translation of UCLA biomedical discoveries into medical products and health interventions and is responsible for the efficient integration of the research infrastructure through the CTSI. He is currently Chair of the Executive Committee of UC Biomedical Research Acceleration, Integration, and Development (UC BRAID), which integrates clinical and translational research across the University of California. Dr. Dubinett has extensive experience in translational investigation, academic administration, mentorship, and peer review. He previously served as Director for Biomarker Development for the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group, directing biospecimen utilization in the context of clinical trials. Dr. Dubinett currently serves as the Chair of the Research Evaluation Panel for biospecimen utilization for the American College of Radiology Imaging Network/ National Lung Screening Trial.