Mark A. Watson, MD, PhD

Pathology and Immunology
Laboratory and Genomic Medicine
Vice Chair, Office of Faculty Development

Molecular Genetics and Genomics Program
Cancer Biology Program
Human and Statistical Genetics Program

Research Abstract:

With the advent of new targeted therapies, oncologists are more successfully treating primary breast and lung cancer at its earliest stages of diagnosis, but therapeutic resistance and progression to metastatic disease is still a major cause of mortality. Our laboratory is interested in developing and validating clinically useful molecular diagnostic assays to predict and mitigate metastatic tumor progression in patients with breast and lung cancer. In the context of therapeutic cancer trials, we utilize primary patient biospecimens (tumor tissue and 'liquid biopsy' blood specimens) together with novel laboratory techniques such as single cell sequencing, droplet digital PCR, AI-guided histopathology analysis, and multiplexed gene expression spatial profiling to identify and better understand the therapeutic vulnerabilities associated with rare, circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) found in bone marrow. Molecular dissection of these early progenitors of metastatic disease may offer new therapeutic opportunities to prevent metastases and improve long term survival in breast and lung cancer patients.

Selected Publications:

Pillai SG, Siddappa CM, Ma C, Snider J, Kaushal M, Watson MA, Aft R. A microfluidic-based filtration system to enrich for bone marrow disseminated tumor cells from breast cancer patients. PLoS One. 2021 May 14;16(5):e0246139.PMID: 33989287; PMCID: PMC8121342.

Siddappa CM, Pillai SG, Snider J, Alldredge P, Trinkaus K, Watson MA, Aft R. Gene expression analysis to detect disseminated tumor cells in the bone marrow of triple-negative breast cancer patients predicts metastatic relapse. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2019 Nov;178(2):317-325. doi: 10.1007/s10549-019-05405-7. Epub 2019 Aug 20.PMID: 31432366; PMCID: PMC3797655

Pillai SG, Zhu P, Siddappa CM, Adams DL, Li S, Makarova OV, Amstutz P, Nunley R, Tang CM, Watson MA, Aft RL. (2017) Enrichment and Molecular Analysis of Breast Cancer Disseminated Tumor Cells from Bone Marrow Using Microfiltration. PLoS One.12(1):e0170761.PMID: 28129357; PMCID: PMC5271341.

Karlow JA, Devarakonda S, Xing X, Jang HS, Govindan R, Watson M, Wang T. Developmental Pathways Are Epigenetically Reprogrammed during Lung Cancer Brain Metastasis. Cancer Res. 2022 Aug;82(15):2692-2703. PMID: 35706127; PMCID: PMC9357144.

Bueno R, Richards WG, Harpole DH, Ballman KV, Tsao MS, Chen Z, Wang X, ChenG,Chirieac LR, Chui MH, Franklin WA, Giordano TJ, Govindan R, Joshi MB, MerrickDT, Rivard CJ, Sporn T, van Bokhoven A, Yu H, Shepherd FA, Watson MA, Beer DG,Hirsch FR. Multi-Institutional Prospective Validation of Prognostic mRNA Signatures in Early-Stage Squamous Lung Cancer (Alliance). J Thorac Oncol. 2020 Nov;15(11):1748-1757. PMID:32717408

Last Updated: 1/8/2023 12:18:02 AM

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