Precision Oncology and Systems Biology

The Precision Oncology and Systems Biology (POSB) Program builds on the strength of cancer systems biology at Columbia University and the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC), contributing to precision oncology research on a truly predictive and personalized basis. The aim of the program is to leverage a model-based view of cancer biology to embrace the complexity of cancer mechanisms that can no longer be elucidated on a gene-by-gene basis.

Major research themes 

Investigators in this program are applying systems biology approaches to areas of cancer biology including elucidation of novel tumor dependencies and driver mutations as well as understanding response to immunotherapy. They are leveraging large-scale investments in cancer systems biology at Columbia and HICCC and placing a strong emphasis on innovative experimental therapeutics. 

  • Regulatory and signaling networks
  • Single cell tumor heterogeneity
  • Precision oncology

Within these themes, the program is also zeroing in on protein activity/based biomarkers, systems pharmacology, responders vs. non-responders, drug sensitivity, tumor heterogeneity and innovative N-of-1 clinical trials, among others. 

Current Projects

The program has a number of exciting studies underway, including an innovative, RNA-based N-of-1 clinical trial at Columbia focused on identifying key vulnerabilities of any human malignancy and the drugs with the greatest potential to benefit the patients. Other projects under POSB center on single-cell algorithms and their use in direct analysis of tumor heterogeneity for combination therapies and exploring targeted therapeutic intervention in glioblastoma.   

In 2019, the Precision Oncology and Systems Biology Program has received $25M in direct cancer research funding from the National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health.


POSB is directed by: