Shama Mirza, PhD

Assistant Professor, Dept of Obstetrics/Gynecology BBC

P: (414) 955-2231 | F: | E: smirza[at]mcw.edu

ShamaMirza, PhD
Group Members:
  • Marla Chesnik
  • Maxime Heroux (IDP)

Research Interests:

Our research is focused on making personalized medicine a reality. We examine which proteins are key biomarkers for several diseases from cancer to heart disease. Our lab works hand-in-hand with clinicians to implement discoveries as soon as possible. The primary focus of the lab is to carry out the comprehensive characterization of proteins using mass spectrometry in order to better understand protein functions and interactions under normal and disease states; primary focus being on glioblastoma multiforme, endometrial cancer and heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. The lab is also involved in developing novel technologies for proteomics research.

A priori identification of bevacizumab response in recurrent glioblastoma multiforme
The goal of this study is to identify protein signatures for bevacizumab (trade name: Avastin) response to recurring tumors in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) patients. GBM is a very aggressive type of brain cancer affecting about 10,000 Americans annually. Even after initial treatment, almost all patients develop recurring tumors, which have limited treatment choices and little hope of cure. Bevacizumab is FDA approved for treating recurring tumors. However, all patients do not respond equally, and no tissue marker currently exists to predict which patients will respond the best. Using mass spectrometry-based proteomics approaches, we aim to identify protein signatures from tumor biopsies and plasma to predict response to bevacizumab a priori. The outcome will enable physicians to make important clinical decisions on alternate therapeutic strategies for non-responders of bevacizumab at early stages of disease and treatment. In addition, identifying specific inhibitors in these patients will open avenues to new treatment options in GBM. With this individualized approach, the physician can minimize the guesswork and time involved in finding a successful treatment. It is hoped this research will play a critical role in extending and improving the quality of life for these terminal cancer patients. 

This work is carried out in collaboration with physicians at Cancer Center including neurooncologists, neurosurgeons, radiologists, pathologists etc.; an ideal scenario to maximize our understanding of GBM biology and to optimize the response of individual patients to therapeutic modalities.

Biomarkers in diastolic dysfunction/heart failure with preserved ejection fraction 
About half of patients with heart failure have a preserved left ventricular ejection fraction (HFpEF). Having a normal or preserved ejection faction means the heart contracts normally. Heart failure develops in these patients because the ventricles are stiffer and do not relax normally which means less blood enters the heart. If less blood is entering the heart, then less blood is pushed out of the heart. There is no effective treatment for this specific diagnosis. The goal of this project is to identify biomarkers for HFpEF that might allow clinicians to diagnose and treat this condition at an earlier stage. This work is carried out in collaboration with Jennifer Strande, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine- Cardiovascular Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin and a cardiologist at Froedtert Hospital.

Biomarkers of endometrial cancer 
This research project is focused on women’s health by identifying biomarkers for endometrial cancer. Biomarkers can help identify cancers, particularly at an early stage when treatment is most promising. Endometrial cancer develops in the inner lining (endometrium) of the uterus. According to the American Cancer Society, it is the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs in the United States. This work is a collaborative effort with Dr. Denise Uyar, M.D., Assistant Professor of OB/GYN, Division of Gynecology Oncology at Froedtert Hospital and Medical College of Wisconsin.

Technology development in mass spectrometry-based proteomics
We developed numerous novel proteomics approaches for the quantitative analysis of biological samples, membrane protein identification and mapping posttranslational modifications using mass spectrometry. Being affiliated with the Biotechnology & Bioengineering Center, we have access to the Innovation Center Mass Spectrometry Facility with state-of-the-art instrumentation for proteomics analysis.

I am a co-investigator in the Wisconsin Center of Excellence in Genomics Science (CEGS) project led by Drs. Michael Olivier (Texas Biomedical Research Institute) and Lloyd Smith (University of Wisconsin, Madison). The goal of the Wisconsin CEGS is to invent novel technologies that will characterize DNA-protein interactions on a genome-wide scale. The DNA bound proteins captured on solid surfaces (beads or arrays) are characterized by high-throughput mass spectral techniques. In this project, I am assisting in the development of mass spectrometric analysis approaches of captured DNA protein complexes.