Skip to Content

Nicholas Navin, Ph.D.

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Associate Professor, Department of Genetics, Division of Basic Science Research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Dual/Joint/Adjunct Appointment

Associate Professor, Division of Quantitative Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Associate Professor, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, TX

Research Interests

  • Single-cell sequencing
  • Genome Evolution in cancer
  • Intratumor Heterogeneity
  • Cancer Genomics
  • Computational Biology and Bioinformatics

My goal is to understand genome evolution in human cancers. As tumors evolve from a single cell, they acquire complex somatic mutations and diverge to form distinct lineages and subpopulations. This intratumor heterogeneity confounds basic research and clinical diagnosis, because tools do not exist to resolve it. To address this problem, we developed a single-cell sequencing method to profile genomic copy number in individual tumor cells (Nature 472:90-4, 2011). I used this method to profile hundreds of single cells in two breast cancer patients to delineate clonal diversity and infer patterns of genome evolution. The data revealed multiple clonal subpopulations that shared a common evolutionary lineage. In contrast to the gradual models of tumor progression, the data suggest that these breast tumors grew by punctuated clonal expansions, in which hundreds of genomic rearrangements were acquired in short bursts of evolution. We have also recently developed a powerful new method to perform whole-genome sequencing on single tumor cells. This will enable us to study the evolution of many different classes of somatic mutations (point mutations, indels and structural variants) at base-pair resolution in single cells. In addition to single cell sequencing, my laboratory also uses many genomic and cytological methods to study how cancer genomes evolve. We are also actively developing new computational methods to quantify tumor heterogeneity and understand if these measures correlate with clinical parameters such as survival and resistance to chemotherapy. One method developed is called Ploidy-Seq to deep-sequence intratumor subpopulations and infer mutational chronology and ancestral tumor genomes.

View a complete list of Dr. Navin's publications.
Visit Dr. Navin's Lab Website.

Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Genetics
1515 Holcombe Blvd., Unit 1010
Houston, TX 77030
Room Number: BSRB S15.8116B
Phone: 713-563-1287

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

2010 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Stony Brook University, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, PHD, Molecular Genetics
2003 Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, BS, Cell Biology

Postgraduate Training

3/2010-3/2011 Postdoctoral Fellow, Cancer Genetics, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, Dr. Michael Wigler

Honors and Awards

2015 AAAS Wachtel Award, American Association for the Advancement of Science
2014 Faculty Educator Award, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
2013 Innovator Award, Damon-Runyon Rachleff Foundation
2013 Stone Award, Wilson Stone Foundation
2013 T.C. Hsu Endowed Faculty Research Award in Genetics and Cell Biology, Young Investigator Award
2010 Young Investigator Award, Genome Technology, Genome Technology Magazine
2009 Abraham's Award for Outstanding Achievement of a Graduate Student, Stony Brook University
2008-2009 T32 National Cancer Institute Fellowship, National Cancer Institute
2008 King and Miller Fellowship, Stony Brook University
2005 Lindsey-Goldberg Fellowship, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Navin N, Kendall J, Troge J, Rodgers L, Cook K, Stepansky A, Levy D, Lee Y, Esposito D, Muthuswamy L, Hicks J, Wigler M. Tumor Evolution Inferred by Single Cell Sequencing. Nature 7(472):90-4, 4/2011. PMID: 21399628.
2. Wang Y, Waters J, Unruh A, Roh W, Shi X, Chen K, Scheet P, Vattathil S, Liang H, Multani A, Zhang H, Zhao R, Michor F, Meric-Bernstam F, Navin NE. Clonal Evolution in Breast Cancer Revealed by Single Nucleus Genome Sequencing. Nature 512(7513):155-60, 7/2014. PMCID: PMCPMC4158312.
3. Baslan T, Kendall J, Troge J, Stepansky A, Wigler M, Navin N, Hicks J. Genome-wide Copy Number Analysis of Single Cells. Nature Protocols 7(6):1024-41, 5/2012. PMID: 22555242.
4. Molhatra A, Wang Y, Waters J, Hall I, Navin N. Ploidy-Seq: inferring mutational chronology by sequencing polyploid tumor subpopulations. Genomic Med 7(1):6, 1/2015. PMCID: PMCPMC4343275.
5. Leung M, Wang Y, Waters J, Navin N. SNES: Single Nuclei Exome Sequencing .. Genome Biol 25(16):55, 3/2015. PMCID: PMCPMC4373516.

Invited Articles

1. Wang Y, Navin N. Advances and Applications of Single-Cell Sequencing Technologies. Molecular Cell 58(4):598-609, 5/2015. PMCID: PMCPMC4441954.
2. Navin N. Cancer Genomics: One Cell at a Time. Genome Biol, 8/2014. PMCID: PMCPMC4281948.
3. Navin N. The First 5 Years of Single Cell Cancer Genome Sequencing and Beyond. Genome Res, 7/2015.
4. Navin N. Delineating Cancer Evolution with Single Cell Sequencing. Science Trans Med, 7/2015.

Grant & Contract Support

Funding Source: Lefkofsky Foundation
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 2015 - 2018
Funding Source: Center for Genomics Award
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 2015 - 2016
Title: Investigating Clonal Evolution in Triple-Negative Breast Cancers with Single-Cell Sequencing
Funding Source: Agilent University Relations Grant
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 1/1/2015 - 1/1/2016
Title: Investigating Metastasis and Non-Invasive Monitoring in TNBC by Single-Cell Sequencing
Funding Source: Moonshot Knowledge Gap Award
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 2014 - 2016
Funding Source: Center for Epigenetics Award
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 2014 - 2015
Title: Non-Invasive monitoring of Breast Cancer Mutations Using Circulating Free DNA
Funding Source: T.C. Hsu Award
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 2013 - 2016
Title: Developing Single Cell Sequencing Methods to Investigate Metastatic Seeding
Funding Source: Damon-Runyon Rachleff Innovation Award
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 1/1/2013 - 12/31/2015
Title: Single-Cell Sequencing of Breast Tumors to Investigate Genome Evolution
Funding Source: NIH/NIMH
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 7/1/2012 - 6/30/2017
Title: Developing a Whole-Genome Sequencing Method for Single Human Cells
Funding Source: NIH/NIMH
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 2012 - 2014
Title: Investigating the Evolution of Somatic Mutations in Breast Cancer by Single-Cell Sequencing
Funding Source: Center for Genetics and Genomics, UTMDACC
Role: Principal Investigator-MDACC
Duration: 10/3/2011 - 10/2/2012
Title: Next-Generation Sequencing Grant
Funding Source: Kleberg Foundation
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 1/1/2011 - 12/31/2014
Title: Equipment Grant
Funding Source: Texas Stars
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 1/1/2011 - 12/31/2013
Funding Source: Center for Genomics Award
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 2011 - 2012

Last updated: 9/21/2016