Skip to Content

Lauren Averett Byers, MD

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Assistant Professor, Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Bio Statement

Dr. Byers completed her BA degree in Molecular Biology at Princeton University in 1998, her MD degree at Baylor College of Medicine in 2003, and MS degree in Patient-Based Research at the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in 2009.  Following her Clinical Residency in Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Byers joined MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2006 as a Clinical Fellow in Medical Oncology and later as an Advanced Scholar Fellow. During her fellowship, Dr. Byers focused on studying gene and protein profiles of tumor samples obtained from lung cancer patients. Her work revealed major differences in the cellular pathways in small cell lung cancer (SCLC) as compared to non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), leading to the identification of the protein PARP1 as a novel therapeutic target for small cell lung cancer. In 2010, Dr. Byers was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology. She has an impressive list of funded grants and awards, including Women Leading the Way and NCI Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award (both in 2013), R. Lee Clark Fellow Award and President’s Recognition for Faculty Excellence (both in 2014) and ASCO Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement Award (2015).

Research Interests

Dr. Byers’ research goal is to identify changes in cancer cells at the molecular level that contribute to their growth and drug resistance and apply this knowledge to develop more effective, personalized therapy for patients. Her laboratory - together with the Thoracic Bioinformatics Team, which she co-leads - studies gene and protein profiles obtained from lung and head and neck cell lines, mouse models, and patient tumors. Dr. Byers’ laboratory research led to the discovery of several novel drug targets for lung and head and neck cancer and important ways in which cancer cells can become resistant to existing therapies, including immunotherapy. The results obtained by her team have led directly to clinical trials with new combinations of drugs that will impact patient care. Currently, Dr. Byers is examining the inhibitory effects of different drugs on protein Chk1 to treat small cell lung cancer.

Clinical Interests

Dr. Byers is a medical oncologist dedicated to understanding the causes of resistance to treatment in patients diagnosed with thoracic and head and neck cancers and identifying novel therapeutic targets for these diseases. She incorporates the analysis of gene and protein information of a patient when evaluating and determining the best treatment strategy for that patient. Previously, Dr. Byers demonstrated that the cellular membrane receptor Axl is a marker that can predict which patients will be resistant to treatment with EGFR inhibitors. This work led to her opening a clinical trial that uses new drug combinations targeting Axl in patients resistant to treatment with EGFR inhibitors. In addition, Dr. Byers is currently leading several clinical trials testing PARP inhibitors alone and in combination with chemotherapy for patients with recurrent small cell lung cancer.

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

2009 University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, TX, MS, Cancer Biology (specialization in Patient-Based Research)
2003 Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, MD, Medicine
1998 Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, BA, Molecular Biology

Postgraduate Training

7/2009-7/2010 Advanced Scholars Program, Medical Oncology Research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, Waun Ki Hong, MD, Program Director
7/2006-6/2009 Clinical Fellowship, Medical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, Robert A. Wolff, MD, Program Director
7/2003-6/2006 Clinical Residency, Internal Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, Charles Wiener, MD, Program Director

Board Certifications

11/2010 Medical Oncology, American Board of Internal Medicine
8/2006 Internal Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Mak MP, Tong P, Lixia Diao L, Cardnell RJ, Gibbons DL, William WN, Skoulidis F, Parra ER, Rodriguez-Canales J, Wistuba II, Heymach JV, Weinstein JN, Coombes KR, Wang J, Byers LA. A patient-derived, pan-cancer EMT signature identifies global molecular alterations and immune target enrichment following epithelial to mesenchymal transition. Clin Cancer Res. e-Pub 9/2015. PMID: 26420858.
2. Skoulidis F, Byers LA, Diao L, Papadimitrakopoulou VA, Tong P, Izzo J, Behrens C, Kadara H, Parra ER, Rodriguez-Canales J, Zhang J, Giri U, Gudikote J, Cortez MA, Yang C, Fan YH, Peyton M, Girard L, Coombes KR, Toniatti C, Heffernan TP, Choi M, Frampton GM, Miller V, Weinstein JN, Herbst RS, Wong KK, Zhang J, Sharma P, Mills GB, Hong WK, Minna JD, Allison JP, Futreal A, Wang J, Wistuba II, Heymach JV. Co-occurring genomic alterations define major subsets of KRAS - mutant lung adenocarcinoma with distinct biology, immune profiles, and therapeutic vulnerabilities. Cancer Discov. e-Pub 6/2015. PMID: 26069186.
3. Cardnell RJ, Behrens C, Diao L, Fan YH, Tang X, Tong P, Minna JD, Mills GB, Heymach JV, Wistuba II, Wang J, Byers LA. An integrated molecular analysis of lung adenocarcinomas identifies potential therapeutic targets among TTF1-negative tumors including DNA repair proteins and Nrf2. Clin Cancer Res. e-Pub 4/2015. PMID: 25878335.
4. Cancer Genome Atlas Network. Comprehensive genomic characterization of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas. Nature 517(7536):576-82, 1/2015. PMCID: PMC4311405.
5. Hoadley KA, Yau C, Wolf DM, Cherniack AD, Tamborero D, Ng S, Leiserson MD, Niu B, McLellan MD, Uzunangelov V, Zhang J, Kandoth C, Akbani R, Shen H, Omberg L, Chu A, Margolin AA, Van't Veer LJ, Lopez-Bigas N, Laird PW, Raphael BJ, Ding L, Robertson AG, Byers LA, Mills GB, Weinstein JN, Van Waes C, Chen Z, Collisson EA, Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network, Benz CC, Perou CM, Stuart JM. Multi-platform analysis of 12 cancer types reveals molecular classification within and across tissues-of-origin. Cell 158(4):929-44, 8/2014. e-Pub 8/2014. PMCID: PMC4152462 (ASCO top research advance of the year in; "Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement Award; Clinical Research Forum").
6. Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network. Comprehensive molecular profiling of lung adenocarcinoma. Nature 511(7511):543-50, 7/2014. e-Pub 7/2014. PMID: 25079552.
7. Cardnell RJ, Feng Y, Diao L, Fan YH, Masrorpour F, Wang J, Shen Y, Mills GB, Minna JD, Heymach JV, Byers LA. Proteomic markers of DNA repair and PI3K pathway activation predict response to the PARP inhibitor BMN 673 in small cell lung cancer. Clin Cancer Res 19(22):6322-8, 11/2013. e-Pub 9/2013. PMCID: PMC3882158.
8. Byers LA, Diao L, Wang J, Saintigny P, Girard L, Peyton M, Shen L, Fan Y, Giri U, Tumula PK, Nilsson MB, Gudikote J, Tran H, Cardnell RJ, Bearss DJ, Warner SL, Foulks JM, Kanner SB, Gandhi V, Krett N, Rosen ST, Kim ES, Herbst RS, Blumenschein GR, Lee JJ, Lippman SM, Ang KK, Mills GB, Hong WK, Weinstein JN, Wistuba II, Coombes KR, Minna JD, Heymach JV. An epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) gene signature predicts resistance to EGFR and PI3K inhibitors and identifies Axl as a therapeutic target for overcoming EGFR inhibitor resistance. Clin Cancer Res 19(1):279-290, 1/2013. e-Pub 10/2012. PMCID: PMC3567921 (Top 5 cited article, Clinical Cancer Research 2013).
9. Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network. Comprehensive genomic characterization of squamous cell lung cancers. Nature 489(7417):519-25, 9/2012. e-Pub 9/2012. PMCID: PMC3466113.
10. Byers LA, Wang J, Nilsson MB, Fujimoto J, Saintigny P, Yordy J, Giri U, Peyton M, Fan YH, Diao L, Masrorpour F, Shen L, Liu W, Duchemann B, Tumula P, Bhardwaj V, Welsh J, Weber S, Glisson BS, Kalhor N, Wistuba II, Girard L, Lippman SM, Mills GB, Coombes KR, Weinstein JN, Minna JD, Heymach JV. Proteomic profiling identifies dysregulated pathways in small cell lung cancer and novel therapeutic targets including PARP1. Cancer Discov 2(9):798-811, 9/2012. e-Pub 9/2012. PMCID: PMC3567922.
11. Byers LA, Holsinger FC, Kies MS, William WN, El-Naggar AK, Lee JJ, Hu J, Lopez A, Tran HT, Yan S, Du Z, Ang KK, Glisson BS, Raso MG, Wistuba II, Myers JN, Hong WK, Papadimitrakopoulou V, Lippman SM, Heymach JV. Serum signature of hypoxia-regulated factors is associated with progression after induction therapy in head and neck squamous cell cancer. Mol Cancer Ther 9(6):1755-63, 6/2010. e-Pub 6/2010. PMCID: PMC2913168.
12. Byers LA, Sen B, Saigal B, Diao L, Wang J, Nanjundan M, Cascone T, Mills GB, Heymach JV, Johnson FM. Reciprocal regulation of c-Src and STAT3 in non-small cell lung cancer. Clin Cancer Res 15(22):6852-61, 11/2009. e-Pub 10/2009. PMCID: PMC2935176.
13. Rosenwald A, Wright G, Chan WC, Connors JM, Campo E, Fisher RI, Gascoyne RD, Muller-Hermelink HK, Smeland EB, Giltnane JM, Hurt EM, Zhao H, Averett L, Yang L, Wilson WH, Jaffe ES, Simon R, Klausner RD, Powell J, Duffey PL, Longo DL, Greiner TC, Weisenburger DD, Sanger WG, Dave BJ, Lynch JC, Vose J, Armitage JO, Montserrat E, López-Guillermo A, Grogan TM, Miller TP, LeBlanc M, Ott G, Kvaloy S, Delabie J, Holte H, Krajci P, Stokke T, Staudt LM. The use of molecular profiling to predict survival after chemotherapy for diffuse large-B-cell lymphoma. N Engl J Med 346(25):1937-47, 6/2002. PMID: 12075054.

Invited Articles

1. Byers LA, Rudin CM. "Small cell lung cancer: Where do we go from here?". Cancer 121(5):664-72, 3/2015. e-Pub 10/2014. PMID: 25336398.


1. Stewart CA, Byers LA. Altering the Course of Small Cell Lung Cancer: Targeting Cancer Stem Cells via LSD1 Inhibition. Cancer Cell 28(1):4-6, 7/2015. PMID: 26175409.

Last updated: 2/8/2016