Professional Education

  • Vordiplom, Unlisted School (2006)
  • Staatsexamen, Albert Ludwigs Universitat Freiburg (2010)
  • Doctor of Medicine, Albert Ludwigs Universitat Freiburg (2013)

Stanford Advisors


All Publications

  • Circulating tumour DNA profiling reveals heterogeneity of EGFR inhibitor resistance mechanisms in lung cancer patients NATURE COMMUNICATIONS Chabon, J. J., Simmons, A. D., Lovejoy, A. F., Esfahani, M. S., Newman, A. M., Haringsma, H. J., Kurtz, D. M., Stehr, H., Scherer, F., Karlovich, C. A., Harding, T. C., Durkin, K. A., Otterson, G. A., Purcell, W. T., Camidge, D. R., Goldman, J. W., Sequist, L. V., Piotrowska, Z., Wakelee, H. A., Neal, J. W., Alizadeh, A. A., Diehn, M. 2016; 7


    Circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) analysis facilitates studies of tumour heterogeneity. Here we employ CAPP-Seq ctDNA analysis to study resistance mechanisms in 43 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients treated with the third-generation epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor rociletinib. We observe multiple resistance mechanisms in 46% of patients after treatment with first-line inhibitors, indicating frequent intra-patient heterogeneity. Rociletinib resistance recurrently involves MET, EGFR, PIK3CA, ERRB2, KRAS and RB1. We describe a novel EGFR L798I mutation and find that EGFR C797S, which arises in ?33% of patients after osimertinib treatment, occurs in <3% after rociletinib. Increased MET copy number is the most frequent rociletinib resistance mechanism in this cohort and patients with multiple pre-existing mechanisms (T790M and MET) experience inferior responses. Similarly, rociletinib-resistant xenografts develop MET amplification that can be overcome with the MET inhibitor crizotinib. These results underscore the importance of tumour heterogeneity in NSCLC and the utility of ctDNA-based resistance mechanism assessment.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ncomms11815

    View details for Web of Science ID 000378007200001

    View details for PubMedID 27283993

  • Integrated digital error suppression for improved detection of circulating tumor DNA NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY Newman, A. M., Lovejoy, A. F., Klass, D. M., Kurtz, D. M., Chabon, J. J., Scherer, F., Stehr, H., Liu, C. L., Bratman, S. V., Say, C., Zhou, L., Carter, J. N., West, R. B., Sledge, G. W., Shrager, J. B., Loo, B. W., Neal, J. W., Wakelee, H. A., Diehn, M., Alizadeh, A. A. 2016; 34 (5): 547-555


    High-throughput sequencing of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) promises to facilitate personalized cancer therapy. However, low quantities of cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in the blood and sequencing artifacts currently limit analytical sensitivity. To overcome these limitations, we introduce an approach for integrated digital error suppression (iDES). Our method combines in silico elimination of highly stereotypical background artifacts with a molecular barcoding strategy for the efficient recovery of cfDNA molecules. Individually, these two methods each improve the sensitivity of cancer personalized profiling by deep sequencing (CAPP-Seq) by about threefold, and synergize when combined to yield ?15-fold improvements. As a result, iDES-enhanced CAPP-Seq facilitates noninvasive variant detection across hundreds of kilobases. Applied to non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients, our method enabled biopsy-free profiling of EGFR kinase domain mutations with 92% sensitivity and >99.99% specificity at the variant level, and with 90% sensitivity and 96% specificity at the patient level. In addition, our approach allowed monitoring of NSCLC ctDNA down to 4 in 10(5) cfDNA molecules. We anticipate that iDES will aid the noninvasive genotyping and detection of ctDNA in research and clinical settings.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nbt.3520

    View details for Web of Science ID 000375735000036

    View details for PubMedID 27018799

  • Comparative genomics reveals multistep pathogenesis of E2A-PBX1 acute lymphoblastic leukemia JOURNAL OF CLINICAL INVESTIGATION Duque-Afonso, J., Feng, J., Scherer, F., Lin, C., Wong, S. H., Wang, Z., Iwasaki, M., Cleary, M. L. 2015; 125 (9): 3667-3680


    Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common childhood cancer; however, its genetic diversity limits investigation into the molecular pathogenesis of disease and development of therapeutic strategies. Here, we engineered mice that conditionally express the E2A-PBX1 fusion oncogene, which results from chromosomal translocation t(1;19) and is present in 5% to 7% of pediatric ALL cases. The incidence of leukemia in these mice varied from 5% to 50%, dependent on the Cre-driving promoter (Cd19, Mb1, or Mx1) used to induce E2A-PBX1 expression. Two distinct but highly similar subtypes of B cell precursor ALLs that differed by their pre-B cell receptor (pre-BCR) status were induced and displayed maturation arrest at the pro-B/large pre-B II stages of differentiation, similar to human E2A-PBX1 ALL. Somatic activation of E2A-PBX1 in B cell progenitors enhanced self-renewal and led to acquisition of multiple secondary genomic aberrations, including prominent spontaneous loss of Pax5. In preleukemic mice, conditional Pax5 deletion cooperated with E2A-PBX1 to expand progenitor B cell subpopulations, increasing penetrance and shortening leukemia latency. Recurrent secondary activating mutations were detected in key signaling pathways, most notably JAK/STAT, that leukemia cells require for proliferation. These data support conditional E2A-PBX1 mice as a model of human ALL and suggest targeting pre-BCR signaling and JAK kinases as potential therapeutic strategies.

    View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI81158

    View details for Web of Science ID 000362303600039

    View details for PubMedID 26301816

  • Organocatalytic removal of formaldehyde adducts from RNA and DNA bases. Nature chemistry Karmakar, S., Harcourt, E. M., Hewings, D. S., Scherer, F., Lovejoy, A. F., Kurtz, D. M., Ehrenschwender, T., Barandun, L. J., Roost, C., Alizadeh, A. A., Kool, E. T. 2015; 7 (9): 752-758


    Formaldehyde is universally used to fix tissue specimens, where it forms hemiaminal and aminal adducts with biomolecules, hindering the ability to retrieve molecular information. Common methods for removing these adducts involve extended heating, which can cause extensive degradation of nucleic acids, particularly RNA. Here, we show that water-soluble bifunctional catalysts (anthranilates and phosphanilates) speed the reversal of formaldehyde adducts of mononucleotides over standard buffers. Studies with formaldehyde-treated RNA oligonucleotides show that the catalysts enhance adduct removal, restoring unmodified RNA at 37?°C even when extensively modified, while avoiding the high temperatures that promote RNA degradation. Experiments with formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded cell samples show that the catalysis is compatible with common RNA extraction protocols, with detectable RNA yields increased by 1.5-2.4-fold using a catalyst under optimized conditions and by 7-25-fold compared with a commercial kit. Such catalytic strategies show promise for general use in reversing formaldehyde adducts in clinical specimens.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nchem.2307

    View details for PubMedID 26291948

  • Noninvasive monitoring of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma by immunoglobulin high-throughput sequencing BLOOD Kurtz, D. M., Green, M. R., Bratman, S. V., Scherer, F., Liu, C. L., Kunder, C. A., Takahashi, K., Glover, C., Keane, C., Kihira, S., Visser, B., Callahan, J., Kong, K. A., Faham, M., Corbelli, K. S., Miklos, D., Advani, R. H., Levy, R., Hicks, R. J., Hertzberg, M., Ohgami, R. S., Gandhi, M. K., Diehn, M., Alizadeh, A. A. 2015; 125 (24): 3679-3687


    Recent studies have shown limited utility of routine surveillance imaging for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) patients achieving remission. Detection of molecular disease by immunoglobulin high-throughput sequencing (Ig-HTS) from peripheral blood provides an alternate strategy for surveillance. We prospectively evaluated the utility of Ig-HTS within 311 blood and 105 tumor samples from 75 patients with DLBCL, comparing Ig-HTS from the cellular (circulating leukocytes) and acellular (plasma cell-free DNA) compartments of peripheral blood to clinical outcomes and 18FDG PET/CT (n=173). Clonotypic immunoglobulin rearrangements were detected in 83% of patients with adequate tumor samples to enable subsequent monitoring in peripheral blood. Molecular disease measured from plasma, as compared to circulating leukocytes, was more abundant and more correlated with radiographic disease burden. Prior to treatment, molecular disease was detected in the plasma of 82% of patients compared to 71% in circulating cells (p=0.68). However, molecular disease was detected significantly more frequently in the plasma at time of relapse (100% vs. 30%; p = 0.001). Detection of molecular disease in the plasma often preceded PET/CT detection of relapse in patients initially achieving remission. During surveillance time-points prior to relapse, plasma Ig-HTS demonstrated improved specificity (100% vs. 56%, p<0.0001) and similar sensitivity (31% vs. 55%, p=0.4) compared to PET/CT. Given its high specificity, Ig-HTS from plasma has potential clinical utility for surveillance after complete remission.

    View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2015-03-635169

    View details for Web of Science ID 000357282000005

  • Isotype-switched follicular lymphoma displays dissociation between activation-induced cytidine deaminase expression and somatic hypermutation. Leukemia & lymphoma Scherer, F., Navarrete, M. A., Bertinetti-Lapatki, C., Boehm, J., Schmitt-Graeff, A., Veelken, H. 2015: 1-10


    In B-cells, activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) is required for somatic hypermutation (SHM) and class switch recombination (CSR) of immunoglobulin genes. AID introduces mutations in immunoglobulin variable regions (IGV) during B-cell receptor affinity maturation, but may also introduce aberrant mutations into non-immunoglobulin genes, most commonly BCL6. Follicular lymphoma (FL) B-cells constitutively express AID and undergo CSR, SHM and aberrant SHM. We have studied AID expression, the presence of SHM mutations, CSR, and aberrant SHM in BCL6 in a cohort of 75 FL patients. Whereas IgM-expressing (non-switched) FL were characterized by an expected positive correlation between AID and IGV and BCL6 mutations, isotype-switched FL showed dissociation between AID expression and aberrant SHM, and inverse correlation between SHM and AID expression. Our results unveil two manifest biological subgroups of FL and indicate that the specific dissociation between AID and SHM after isotype switch may correlate with the clinical outcome of this heterogeneous disease.

    View details for DOI 10.3109/10428194.2015.1037758

    View details for PubMedID 25860234

  • Selection patterns of B-cell receptors and the natural history of follicular lymphoma. British journal of haematology Scherer, F., van der Burgt, M., Kie?basa, S. M., Bertinetti-Lapatki, C., Dühren von Minden, M., Mikesch, K., Zirlik, K., de Wreede, L., Veelken, H., Navarrete, M. A. 2015

    View details for DOI 10.1111/bjh.13901

    View details for PubMedID 26687432

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