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Seminar by Dr. Sooryanarayana Varambally titled Integrative Data Analysis Using UALCAN platform For Cancer Biomarker Discovery And Therapeutic Targeting

June 26, 2023 @ 2:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Speaker: Dr. Sooryanarayana Varambally (University of Alabama at Birmingham)

Title: Integrative Data Analysis Using UALCAN platform For Cancer Biomarker Discovery And Therapeutic Targeting


Cancer is a complex disease that exhibits diverse morphological, histological and molecular alterations during the initiation, progression and metastasis. Cancer is a leading cause of death both in India and the western countries. Lung, mouth, esophagus, stomach, and nasopharynx cancers are the most common cancers in men and cancer of the breast and cervix, uterine are the most common cancers in women in India. Lung, breast, prostate and colon cancer are common in the western countries. Advances in molecular profiling and sequencing technologies have resulted in generation of massive datasets for cancer genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics. These have presented promising avenues for cancer research. Mining these data and utilizing them to their full potential requires the development of intuitive, innovative and user-friendly web-portals. Not all cancers are the same, and cancers of the same organ show molecular heterogeneity. Multiple “Omics” data and clinical parameters of patients help stratify cancers based on mutational status, gene expression, and survival patterns, all of which may have relevant associations with stage, race/ethnicity, histologic subtypes, genetic aberrations, or other clinicopathologic parameters. In addition, since the identification of DNA methylation and histone modification, it has become clear that epigenetic modifiers that regulate gene expression play a crucial role in cancer progression.

In this era of precision medicine, it is imperative that researchers and clinicians have the capability to identify candidate subclass-specific cancer biomarkers for the purposes of early diagnosis, prediction of disease recurrence, identification of molecular determinants for therapeutic targeting, and re-purposing drugs to inhibit cancer growth. The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network has profiled more than 10,000 human tumors of 33 cancer types to discover genomic and epigenetic alterations. The Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC) provides data on protein expression in various cancers. Integrative informatics tools that harness these molecular modalities and allow intuitive analysis will allow researchers to uncover biological insights of specific tumors. The present talk focuses on our effort in the area of BIG cancer data dissemination through researcher-centric, distinctive, and continuously evolving web platform, UALCAN (https://ualcan.path.uab.edu, Yes! You All Can), for detailed data analyses and visualization. UALCAN, released in 2017, has been visited over 11,85,000 times by researchers from over 100 countries and has been cited about 4,000 times, creating a large global user base making cancer research a team effort and enabling numerous cancer target discoveries and biomarker development. Further, here, I will discuss about identification of viable targets, validation.

About the speaker: 

Dr. Sooryanarayana Varambally did his undergraduate studies at Poornaprajna College, Udupi and M.Sc. in Biochemistry at Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore. Varambally earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India in 1997 under the mentorship of Late Prof. PR Adiga and Prof. Sandhya Visweswariah. He completed a research fellowship in immunology at INSERM unit at Hospital Broussias in Paris, France with Dr. Srinivas Kaveri, and a second research fellowship in cancer biology with Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan at the University of Michigan’s Department of Pathology. He later joined the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology in Ann Arbor as a faculty member. In 2015, he joined the UAB Heersink School of Medicine Department of Pathology where he now serves as a professor and Director of Translational Oncologic Pathology Research as well as Co-Director of Cancer Biology Graduate Program and scientist at O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center and Informatics Institute. In an effort to enhance precision targeting in the fight against cancer, Dr. Varambally initiated and led the development of a comprehensive proteogenomic cancer data analysis platform, UALCAN (ualcan.path.uab.edu, University of ALabama at Birmingham CANcer Portal, Yes! You All Can). This user friendly public cancer data analysis tool allows cancer researchers and clinicians to examine cancer data and identify biomarkers and precision targets, making cancer research a global team effort. UALCAN has received more than 1.2 million visits from over 100 countries and has been cited in more than 4,000 research articles in the last 6 years. Dr. Varambally has co-authored more than 150 manuscripts. Many of his work has been published in journal like Science, Nature, Cancer Cell, Cancer Discovery, Nature Medicine, NEJM, JAMA, Nature Biotechnology, PNAS and Cancer Research, among others. His work has been cited over 43,000 times. Varambally was a member of the team that won the inaugural American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Team Science Award in 2007 and received the Research Faculty Recognition Award from the University of Michigan in 2009. In 2021 he received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Society of American Asian Scientists in Cancer Research. He was the recipient of the 2023 Dean’s Excellence Award in Research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.


June 26, 2023
2:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Category:


CES Seminar Hall
CES Seminar Hall, 3rd Floor, Biological Science Building + Google Map