Congratulations to Elham Azizi, Herbert and Florence Irving Assistant Professor of Cancer Data Research (in the Herbert and Florence Institute for Cancer Dynamics and the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center) and Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, who was awarded an R21 grant from the National Institutes of Health. The Azizi lab integrates novel machine learning techniques and cutting-edge genomic and imaging technologies to characterize the complex populations of interacting cell types in the tumor microenvironment and their underlying circuitry to guide improved and personalized cancer therapies.
Mapping the spatial organization of cells and their communication in tissues is essential to understanding the process of development and disease formation. In this newly funded project, the Azizi lab aims to develop a computational toolbox for characterizing the spatial dynamics of diverse cell types in complex tissues using spatial transcriptomic data. Specifically, their machine learning framework incorporates expert knowledge of biological markers and accounts for spatial dependencies between measurements. This toolbox will be applicable to a broad range of tissue systems and larger clinical cohorts and has the potential to transform our understanding of spatial dynamics during healthy development and guide diagnosis and therapeutic strategies based on the spatial organization of cell types.