Aaron Diaz PhD

tl_files/NS_Main/Faculty/Diaz_Aaron.jpgAssistant Professor in Residence of Neurological Surgery

Principal Investigator, Brain Tumor Research Center




The Diaz Lab is interested in developing targeted therapeutics for the treatment of glioma. We apply molecular and computational approaches to elucidate targets and pathways mediating cancer progression. We integrate the rapidly growing wealth of biomedical Big Data, with high-throughput genetic and epigenetic assays, to study tumor growth and response to treatment.

To date, some of the most effective cancer therapies have been those that hone in on molecular defects associated with specific driver genes. However, in highly diverse tumors, such as gliomas, clinical trials of promising targeted therapeutics often produce mixed results. This is at least partially due to intra-tumor regional heterogeneity in response to treatment. To address this pressing challenge, we combine high-throughput single-cell and functional assays with state-of-the-art machine-learning algorithms. These methods produce quantitative models of tumor heterogeneity, and micro-environment interaction. The long-term goal of these studies is to help to guide the design of clinical trials with targeted agents, and improve the management of gliomas through precision therapies.

Education, Training, and Previous Positions

1993-1997: BS, New York University, Mathematics
1997-2003: MS, Cornell University, Computer Science
1997-2003: PhD, Cornell University, Applied Mathematics
2002-2003: Intern, Sandia National Laboratory
2003-2010: Assistant Professor, Dept. of Mathematics, Santa Clara University
2010-2014: Postdoctoral Fellow, Inst. for Human Genetics, UCSF
2014-present: Assistant Professor, Dept. of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, UCSF
2015-present: Assistant Professor, Dept. of Neurological Surgery, UCSF

Professional Memberships and Associations

Society of Neuro-Oncology

Selected Honors and Awards

2010: BCATS Plenary Talk Award
2008: Santa Clara University Dean's Award
2003: Santa Clara University Technology Innovation Award
1997: Cornell University Sage Fellowship
1997: Institute for Advanced Study Research Fellowship
1996: Carnegie Mellon University Research Fellowship
1993: New York University Tuition Scholarship

Selected Recent Publications

Diaz AA, Qin H, Ramalho-Santos M, Song JS. HiTSelect: a comprehensive tool for high-complexity-pooled screen analysis. Nucleic Acids Res. 2014 Nov 26. pii: gku1197. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed PMID: 25428347.

Qin H*, Diaz A*, Blouin L, Lebbink RJ, Patena W, Tanbun P, LeProust EM, McManus MT, Song JS, Ramalho-Santos M. Systematic identification of barriers to human iPSC generation. Cell 2014;158(2):449-461.

Nagarajan RP, Zhang B, Bell RJ, Johnson BE, Olshen AB, Sundaram V, Li D, Graham AE, Diaz A, Fouse SD, Smirnov I, Song J, Paris PL, Wang T, Costello JF. Recurrent epimutations activate gene body promoters in primary glioblastoma. Genome Res 2014;24(5):761-774.

Ramos AD, Diaz A, Nellore A, Delgado RN, Park KY, Gonzales-Roybal G, Oldham MC, Song JS, Lim DA. Integration of genome-wide approaches identifies lncRNAs of adult neural stem cells and their progeny in vivo. Cell Stem Cell 2013;12(5):616-28.

Nellore A, Bobkov K, Howe E, Pankov A, Diaz A, Song JS. NSeq: a multithreaded Java application for finding positioned nucleosomes from sequencing data. Front Genet 2013;3:320.

Diaz A, Nellore A, Song JS. CHANCE: comprehensive software for quality control and validation of ChIP-seq data. Genome Biol 2012;13(10):R98.

Diaz A, Park K, Lim DA, Song JS. Normalization, bias correction, and peak calling for ChIP-seq. Stat Appl Genet Mol Biol 2012;11(3):Article 9.

Hunkapiller J, Shen Y, Diaz A, Cagney G, McCleary D, Ramalho-Santos M, Krogan N, Ren B, Song JS, Reiter JF. Polycomb-like 3 promotes polycomb repressive complex 2 binding to CpG islands and embryonic stem cell self-renewal. PLoS Genet 2012;8(3):e1002576.