Dr. Maureen Sartor is an Associate Professor of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics (Medical School) and of Biostatistics (School of Public Health) at University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. She received an M.S. from NC State University, her Ph.D. degree in Biostatistics from the University of Cincinnati in 2007, and began at University of Michigan as a Research Assistant Professor after a short post-doc also at University of Cincinnati. Her early research focused on developing methods for the analysis and interpretation of gene expression and regulatory microarray data. Dr. Sartor is now a member of the Cancer Genetics group in the Rogel Cancer Center at Michigan, and has been studying molecular characteristics of head and neck cancers for over ten years. She is Co-Director of the Bioinformatics Graduate Program, and Lead of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for her department. Dr. Sartor has published over 130 peer-reviewed papers, with the majority involving high-throughput molecular analysis in the areas of cancer or environmental health.
Dr. Sartor's current research focuses on cancer and immune bioinformatics, molecular characteristics of head and neck cancer (HNSCC), especially the effects of HPV integration in HPV-positive oropharynx cancer. Her lab also studies gene set methods for epigenomic and genome-wide regulatory data, and develops methods and software tools. She has several ongoing projects for cancer biomarker discovery, precision medicine, immunotherapy, and health disparities in cancer. Her lab was first to characterize subtypes of HPV-positive HNSCCs, using transcriptomics, mutations, HPV gene expression, and copy number variations in a University of Michigan cohort, and in relation to HNSC TCGA data. Her group discovered that head and neck HPV-positive tumors with no detectable expressed HPV integration event have strongly heightened immune response and other cancer pathway differences compared to those with a detected, expressed integration event, which could explain the significantly longer survival observed in those patients without a detected integration event. This work led to a current R01 studying the downstream effects of HPV integration with the goal to identify patient subgroups able to benefit from either de-escalated therapy or an additional targeted therapy. Other projects include associating imaging patterns with genetic mutations for HNSCC survival, overcoming adaptive immune resistance mechanisms in head and neck cancers, and studying aggressive colorectal cancer subtypes and social disadvantage in a racially diverse cohort.
Research Opportunities for Rotating Students
1. Downstream effects of HPV integration on survival/metastasis in oropharyngeal cancer
2. Synthesizing Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocyte Patterns with Genomic Measurements for Head and Neck Cancer Survival
3. Overcoming Adaptive Immune Resistance Mechanisms in Head and Neck Cancers
4. What we can learn from epigenomic signatures in HNSCC - how they correlate with subtypes, cancer pathways, and clinical variables/outcome
5. Starting soon - Aggressive colorectal cancer subtypes and social disadvantage in a racially diverse cohort