Andrea Comba, Ph.D.

Research Investigator, Neurological Surgery


Dr. Andrea Comba joined the Castro-Lowenstein Laboratory in 2016. Since starting her post-doctoral training, her work has been focused on identifying novel organized mesenchymal multicellular structures, named “Oncostreams.”  They represent areas of mesenchymal transformation which act as drivers of high-grade glioma growth and invasion. Through this work, she aims to elucidate the functions and molecular mechanism underlying mesenchymal transformation of self-organized dynamic patterns of malignant gliomas. Dr. Comba has used state-of-the-art molecular and cellular methodologies such as spatial resolved transcriptomic analysis (laser microdissection couple to next generation RNA-sequencing) and in vivo imaging of tumoral dynamic behavior (time lapse confocal microscopy on 3D explant models of glioma) in mouse glioma models and human patient’s glioma samples. In 2018 Andrea was awarded with the postdoctoral translational program (PTSP) career development scholarship from the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR). On another project, Andrea investigated the role of FYN tyrosine kinase, a novel regulator of the antitumor immune response. Suppressing the expression of Fyn in glioma cells could provide a novel therapeutic target. The long-term aim of her research project is to identify potential master targets that regulate brain tumors’ mesenchymal transformation and their interactions with the tumor microenvironment that contribute to intratumoral heterogeneity and glioma aggressiveness, ultimately translating these experimental findings into future clinical therapies. 
Outside of the lab Andrea enjoys spending time with her husband and friends. She practices Yoga and enjoys cooking. She loves outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and camping.

Honors & Awards

  • AACR Scholar-in-Training Award, American association for Cancer Research (AACR), Unites States. For early-career scientists in recognition of meritorious proffered research work (2020)
  • Post-doctoral Research Fellowship from National Research Council (CONICET), Argentina (2014-2016)
  • Travel Award for IBRO-LARC World Congress for the 9th World Congress of the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) (2015)
  • Training Award from International Society for Neurochemistry (ISN), Committee for Aid and Education in Neurochemistry (CAEN) (2015)
  • Travel Award Symposium Glia at the round table, Argentine Society of Neurosciences (SAN) (2015)
  • Research Fellowship Visiting Graduate Student from Medical Graduate School, Mayo Clinic. Rochester, MN (2012)
  • Graduate Research Fellowship from National Research Council of Argentina (CONICET) (2009-2014)
  • Scientific Exchange Visitor Research Fellowship from AMSUD-Pasteur, Program of Scientific cooperation between South American countries and Pasteur Institute of Paris (2010)
  • Undergraduate Research Fellowship from Córdoba Science Agency, Government of Cordoba State, Argentina (2006-2007) 
  • Summa cum laude honor; Graduated with highest distinction; Honorable Directive Council of the Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences Faculty, National University of Córdoba, Argentina (2006)


B.S. Biological Science, summa cum laude, Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences School, National University of Cordoba, Argentina (2002-2007)

Ph.D. Biological Sciences, summa cum laude, Cellular and Molecular Biology of Cancer, Thesis: Role of the arachidonic acid pathway in the modulation of neoplastic gene expression, Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences School, National University of Cordoba, Argentina (2009-2013)

Post-doctoral Research Fellow, National Research Council (CONICET) and Department of Biological Chemistry, Chemical Science School, National University of Cordoba, Cordoba, Argentina (2014-2016)

Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI (2016-2021)


Postdoctoral Translational Science Research Grant, Project: F049768, UL1 TR 002242; Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR), Postdoctoral Translational Scholars Program (PTSP). Principal Investigator with effort (2018-2020)

Published Articles or Reviews

  1. Andrea Comba, Patrick J Dunn, Anna E Argento, Padma Kadiyala, Maria Ventosa, Priti Patel, Daniel B Zamler, Felipe J Nunez, Lili Zhao, Maria G Castro, Pedro R. Lowenstein: FYN tyrosine kinase, a downstream target of receptor tyrosine kinases, modulates anti-glioma immune responses. Neuro-oncology 22(6):806-818, 2020. PMID: 31950181.  Journal cover and Merited editorial.
  2. Garcia-Fabiani MB, Ventosa M, Comba A, Candolfi M, Nicola Candia AJ, Alghamri MS, Kadiyala P, Carney S, Faisal SM, Schwendeman A, Moon JJ, Scheetz L, Lahann J, Mauser A, Lowenstein PR, Castro MG: Immunotherapy for gliomas: shedding light on progress in preclinical and clinical development. ExpertOpin. Investig. Drugs 1-26, 2020. PMID: 32400216.
  3. Sara Jamous, Andrea Comba, Pedro Lowenstein, Sebastien Motsch: Self-organization in brain tumors: how cell morphology and cell density influence glioma pattern formation. Plos Computational Biology16(5):e1007611, 2020. PMID: 32379821. 
  4. Andrea Comba, Patrick J. Dunn, Phillip E. Kish, Padma Kadiyala, Alon Kahana, Maria G. Castro, Pedro R. Lowenstein: Laser Capture Microdissection of Glioma Subregions for Spatial and Molecular Characterization of Intratumoral Heterogeneity, Oncostreams, and Invasion. Journal of Experimental Visualization (158):10.3791/60939, 2020. PMID: 32338655.
  5. Maria Belen Garcia-Fabiani, Andrea Comba, Padma Kadiyala, Santiago Haase, Felipe Javier Núñez, David Altshuler,Pedro Ricardo Lowenstein, Maria Graciela Castro. Isolation and characterization of immune cells from the tumor microenvironment of genetically engineered pediatric high-grade glioma models using the sleeping beauty transposon system. Methods in Enzymology 632:369-388, 2020. PMID: 32000905.  
  6. Yadav VN, Altshuler D, Kadiyala P, Zamler D, Comba A, Appelman H, Dunn P, Koschmann C, Castro MG, Löwenstein PR: Molecular Ablation of Tumor Blood Vessels Inhibits Therapeutic Effects of Radiation and Bevacizumab. Neuro-Oncology 20(10):1356-1367, 2018. PMID: 29660022.
  7. Comba A, Bonnet LV, Goitea VE, Galiano ME, Hallak ME: Arginylated Calreticulin Increases Apoptotic Response Induced by Bortezomib in Glioma Cells. Molecular Neurobiology, 56(3):1653-1664, 2018. PMID: 29916141.
  8. Comba A, Almada LL, Tolosa EJ, Iguchi E, Marks DL, Vara Messler M, Silva R, Fernandez-Barrena MG, Enriquez-Hesles E, Vrabel AL, Botta B, Di Marcotulio L, Ellenrieder V, Eynard AR, Pasqualini ME, Fernandez-Zapico ME: Nuclear factor of activated T cells-dependent downregulation of the transcription factor GLI1 underlies the growth inhibitory properties of arachidonic acid. J. Biol. Chem. 291(4):1933-47, 2016. PMID: 26601952.  
  9. Vara-Messler M, Pasqualini ME, Comba A, Silva R, Buccelatti C, Trenti A, Trevisi L, Eynard AR, Sala A, Bolego C, Valentich MA: Increased dietary levels of α-linolenic acid inhibit mammary tumor growth and metastasis. Eur. J. Nutrition 55(4):1809, 2016. PMID: 26582578.
  10. Garcia CP., Lamarque A., Comba A., Berra MA., Silva RA., Labuckas DA., Das UN., Eynard AR., Pasqualini M.E: Synergistics effects of melatonin and Dietary PUFAs on the development of an experimental murine mammary gland adenocarcinoma. Nutrition 31(4):570-7, 2014. PMID: 25770319.
  11. Zheng X, Rumie Vittar NB, Gai X, Fernandez-Barrena MG, Moser CD, Hu C, Almada LL, McCleary-Wheeler AL, Elsawa SF, Vrabel AM, Shire AM, Comba A, Thorgeirsson SS, Kim Y, Liu Q, Fernandez-Zapico ME, Roberts LR. The Transcription Factor GLI1 Mediates TGFβ1 Driven EMT in Hepatocellular Carcinoma via a SNAI1-Dependent Mechanism. PLoS One 7 (11):e49581, 2014. PMID: 23185371.
  12. Comba A, Maestri DM, MA Berra, Garcia PC, Das A, Eynard AR, Pasqualini ME: Effect of ω-3 and ω-9 fatty acid rich oils on lipoxygenases and cyclooxygenases enzymes and on the growth of a mammary adenocarcinoma model. Lipids in Health and Disease, 9:112, 2012. PMID: 20932327.
  13. Comba A, Eynard AR, Fernandez-Zapico ME, ME Pasqualini: Basic Aspects of Tumor Cell Fatty Acid-Regulated Signaling and Transcription Factors. Cancer and Metastasis Rev30(3-4):325-42, 2011. PMID: 22048864.
  14. S Rizvi, CJ Demars, Comba A, Gainullin VG, Rizvi Z, LL Almada, Wang K, Lomberk G, Fernandez-Zapico ME, Buttar NS: Reveals a Novel Combinatorial Chemoprevention Smoothened-Independent Role of GLI1 in Esophageal Carcinogenesis. Cancer Research 70 (17):6787-96, 2010. PMID: 20647328.
  15. Andrea Comba, Pasqualini Maria Eugenia. Primers on Molecular Pathways-lipoxygenases: Their Role as an oncogenic Pathway in Pancreatic Cancer. Pancreatology; 9: 724-728, 2009. PMID: 20016244.