Joshua Campbell, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine

Boston, MA

Current Site Of Practice: Boston
Hospital Affiliation: Boston Medical Center
Focus of Research:
Fellowship Year: 2018 –
Attended: Boston University

Contact Joshua Campbell


Alterations in Bronchial Airway miRNA Expression for Lung Cancer Detection.

Co-Authors Campbell JD, Liu G, Elashoff D, Dubinett S, Smith K, Whitney D, Lenburg ME, Spira A; AEGIS Study Team

We have previously shown that gene expression alterations in normal-appearing bronchial epithelial cells can serve as a lung cancer detection biomarker in smokers. Given that miRNAs regulate airway gene expression responses to smoking, we evaluated whether miRNA expression is also altered in the bronchial epithelium of smokers with lung cancer. Using epithelial brushings from the mainstem bronchus of patients undergoing bronchoscopy for suspected lung cancer (as part of the AEGIS-1/2 clinical trials), we profiled miRNA expression via small-RNA sequencing from 347 current and former smokers for which gene expression data were also available. Patients were followed for one year postbronchoscopy until a final diagnosis of lung cancer (n = 194) or benign disease (n = 153) was made. Following removal of 6 low-quality samples, we used 138 patients (AEGIS-1) as a discovery set to identify four miRNAs (miR-146a-5p, miR-324-5p, miR-223-3p, and miR-223-5p) that were downregulated in the bronchial airway of lung cancer patients (ANOVA P < 0.002, FDR < 0.2). The expression of these miRNAs is significantly more negatively correlated with the expression of their mRNA targets than with the expression of other nontarget genes (K-S P < 0.05). Furthermore, these mRNA targets are enriched among genes whose expression is elevated in cancer patients (GSEA FDR < 0.001). Finally, we found that the addition of miR-146a-5p to an existing mRNA biomarker for lung cancer significantly improves its performance (AUC) in the 203 samples (AEGIS-1/2) serving an independent test set (DeLong P < 0.05). Our findings suggest that there are miRNAs whose expression is altered in the cytologically normal bronchial epithelium of smokers with lung cancer, and that they may regulate cancer-associated gene expression differences. 

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2017 Nov;10(11):651-659


Distinct patterns of somatic genome alterations in lung adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas.

To compare lung adenocarcinoma (ADC) and lung squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC) and to identify new drivers of lung carcinogenesis, we examined the exome sequences and copy number profiles of 660 lung ADC and 484 lung SqCC tumor-normal pairs. Recurrent alterations in lung SqCCs were more similar to those of other squamous carcinomas than to alterations in lung ADCs. New significantly mutated genes included PPP3CA, DOT1L, and FTSJD1 in lung ADC, RASA1 in lung SqCC, and KLF5, EP300, and CREBBP in both tumor types. New amplification peaks encompassed MIR21 in lung ADC, MIR205 in lung SqCC, and MAPK1 in both. Lung ADCs lacking receptor tyrosine kinase-Ras-Raf pathway alterations had mutations in SOS1, VAV1, RASA1, and ARHGAP35. Regarding neoantigens, 47% of the lung ADC and 53% of the lung SqCC tumors had at least five predicted neoepitopes. Although targeted therapies for lung ADC and SqCC are largely distinct, immunotherapies may aid in treatment for both subtypes.

Nat Genet. 2016 Jun;48(6):607-16.


Comparison of Prevalence and Types of Mutations in Lung Cancers Among Black and White Populations.

IMPORTANCE: Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States in all ethnic and racial groups. The overall death rate from lung cancer is higher in black patients than in white patients.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the prevalence and types of somatic alterations between lung cancers from black patients and white patients. Differences in mutational frequencies could illuminate differences in prognosis and lead to the reduction of outcome disparities by more precisely targeting patients' treatment.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Tumor specimens were collected from Baptist Cancer Center (Memphis, Tennessee) over the course of 9 years (January 2004-December 2012). Genomic analysis by massively parallel sequencing of 504 cancer genes was performed at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston, Massachusetts). Overall, 509 lung cancer tumors specimens (319 adenocarcinomas; 142 squamous cell carcinomas) were profiled from 245 black patients and 264 white patients.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The frequencies of genomic alterations were compared between tumors from black and white populations.

RESULTS: Overall, 509 lung cancers were collected and analyzed (273 women [129 black patients; 144 white patients] and 236 men [116 black patients; 120 white patients]). Using 313 adenocarcinomas and 138 squamous cell carcinomas with genetically supported ancestry, overall mutational frequencies and copy number changes were not significantly different between black and white populations in either tumor type after correcting for multiple hypothesis testing. Furthermore, specific activating alterations in members of the receptor tyrosine kinase/Ras/Raf pathway including EGFR and KRAS were not significantly different between populations in lung adenocarcinoma.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: These results demonstrate that lung cancers from black patients are similar to cancers from white patients with respect to clinically actionable genomic alterations and suggest that clinical trials of targeted therapies could significantly benefit patients in both groups.

JAMA Oncol. 2017 Jun 1;3(6):801-809


Genomic, Pathway Network, and Immunologic Features Distinguishing Squamous Carcinomas.

Co-Authors TCGA Consortium

This integrated, multiplatform PanCancer Atlas study co-mapped and identified distinguishing molecular features of squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) from five sites associated with smoking and/or human papillomavirus (HPV). SCCs harbor 3q, 5p, and other recurrent chromosomal copy-number alterations (CNAs), DNA mutations, and/or aberrant methylation of genes and microRNAs, which are correlated with the expression of multi-gene programs linked to squamous cell stemness, epithelial-to-mesenchymal differentiation, growth, genomic integrity, oxidative damage, death, and inflammation. Low-CNA SCCs tended to be HPV(+) and display hypermethylation with repression of TET1 demethylase and FANCF, previously linked to predisposition to SCC, or harbor mutations affecting CASP8, RAS-MAPK pathways, chromatin modifiers, and immunoregulatory molecules. We uncovered hypomethylation of the alternative promoter that drives expression of the ΔNp63 oncogene and embedded miR944. Co-expression of immune checkpoint, T-regulatory, and Myeloid suppressor cells signatures may explain reduced efficacy of immune therapy. These findings support possibilities for molecular classification and therapeutic approaches.

Cell Rep. 2018 Apr 3;23(1):194-212.e6