Avrum Spira, MD, is professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Pathology and Bioinformatics, and chief of the Division of Computational Biomedicine, at the Boston University School of Medicine. He is an attending physician in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Boston Medical Center and directs the bioinformatics program in the Pulmonary Center, as well as the translational bioinformatics program in the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Boston University.
He graduated from the medical school at McGill University in Montreal and also has a master’s degree in bioinformatics from the College of Engineering of Boston University.
Dr. Spira’s laboratory research interests focus on applying genomic and bioinformatics tools to lung cancer and chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), with the ultimate objective of developing novel diagnostics and therapeutics that can directly impact clinical care. His research program centers around the concept that inhaled toxins create a “field of injury” in all exposed airway epithelial cells, and that by measuring gene expression in a relatively pure population of these cells, one can develop a gene-expression profile that reflects the physiological response to and damage from the toxin. The importance of the “field-of-injury” concept is that it allows for the detection of lung disease in tissues that are more readily assayed than the diseased lung itself.
His lab has characterized the impact of cigarette smoking on intra-thoracic (lobar bronchi) and extra-thoracic (mouth and nasal) airway epithelial cell gene expression, and he has leveraged this approach to develop a bronchial airway gene-expression biomarker for the early detection of lung cancer that is currently being validated in a multicenter clinical trial.