Gad Getz leads cancer genome analysis at the Broad Institute. Gad’s current major interest is to develop and apply statistical methods to distinguish between “driver” mutations, which are targeted by the tumor and selected for during its development, and “passenger” mutations, which occur by random chance in cancer genomes. Distinguishing “driver” mutations is crucial to pin- pointing the cancer genes they target.
Gad is applying these methods to large-scale datasets, describing both chromo- somal aberrations identified from array-based data, and point mutations iden- tified through large-scale genome resequencing. For chromosomal aberrations, including copy-number changes and loss-of-heterozygosity events, Gad worked in collaboration with Rameen Beroukhim to develop a novel method called Genomic Identification of Significant Targets In Cancer (GISTIC). This method can systematically analyze data from large tumor sets to identify genomic regions significantly altered in cancer, and pinpoint the genes likely to be targeted. Regarding sequencing data, Gad has worked with Eric Lander and others to analyze recently published data, demonstrating that the analysis and the conclusions that were reported are statistically flawed. Using a corrected analytical approach, he has developed power calculations that may affect the experimental design of The Cancer Genome Atlas project, a National Cancer Institute project in which the Broad Institute takes a major role.
Gad is also collaborating with multiple scientists, both within the Broad and at other institutions, to apply the methods he is developing to multiple tumor types including glioma, melanoma, lymphoma, and breast, colon, lung, ovarian, prostate, and renal cancers. Prior to his current appointment, Gad worked with Todd Golub as a postdoctoral fellow in the Cancer Program. During that time and together with Jun Lu, he demonstrated that microRNA expression profiles can classify human cancers and that these profiles carry rich information regarding tissue lineage, even beyond mRNA profiles. In collaboration with Levi Garraway, he identified MITF as a melanoma-specific oncogene by integrating DNA copy number data and expression data measured on the NCI60 cell line panel. Following this study, he and Dr. Garraway integrated these data with pharmacological data to predict that cells with BRAF mutations would respond to MEK inhibitors — a prediction that was confirmed in cell lines and xenografts by the Rosen lab.
Gad received his B.A. in physics and mathematics in 1989 from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After military service, he completed a master’s in physics from Tel Aviv University in 1997. In 2004, he received a Ph.D. in physics from the Weizmann Institute of Science that was supported by scholarships and awards from the Sir Charles Clore Israel Foundation, the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Israeli Council for Higher Education and the Feinberg Graduate School.