University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Steven J. Altschuler, PhD

Steven J. Altschuler, PhD

Professor, Dept. of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, UCSF

Cancer Center Program Memberships

Experimental Therapeutics

Research Summary

Over the past decade, my laboratory, in collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Lani Wu, has pioneered multiple approaches for quantifying and interpreting cancer heterogeneity in normal and diseased tissues. Traditionally, this phenotypic heterogeneity, whether arising from microenvironment, epigenetic or genetic sources, has been viewed as an impediment to understanding and treating cancer. We were therefore very surprised by our ability to identify biological and clinical information hidden within patterns of heterogeneity Our cancer research program is focused on: 1) accelerating the path of early cancer drug discovery; 2) identifying clinically important information from cellular and tissue heterogeneity; and 3) understanding heterogeneity arising from drug resistance.


University of Pennsylvania, BA, 1985, Mathematics
University of California, San Diego, MA, 1986, Mathematics
University of California, San Diego, PhD, 1990, Mathematics (Advisor: Richard Hamilton)

Professional Experience

  • 1990-1991
    Research Fellow, University of Minnesota, Institute for Mathematics and its Applications Minneapolis, MN.
  • 1991-1992
    Research Associate, Australian National University, Centre for Mathematics and its Applications, Canberra, Australia.
  • 1992-1993
    Research Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey.
  • 1993-1994
    Instructor, Mathematics Department, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey.
  • 1994-2000
    Group Manager and Senior Researcher, Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA.
  • 2001-2005
    Fellow, Bauer Center for Genomics Research, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
  • 2000-2001
    Director Research, Informatics, Rosetta Inpharmatics, Kirkland, WA.
  • 2005-2009
    Assistant Professor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX.
  • 2005-2014
    Associate Professor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX.
  • 2014-present
    Professor, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.

Honors & Awards

  • 1985
    B.A. Magna Cum Laude, Departmental Honors
  • 1989
    Alfred P. Sloan Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship
  • 1997
    AMS Profiled Industrial Mathematician of the Month
  • 2005
    UTSW endowed scholar: W. W. Caruth, Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research
  • 2008
    Rita Allen Foundation Scholar: Milton E. Cassel Scholar

Selected Publications

  1. Morinishi L, Kochanowski K, Levine RL, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. Loss of TET2 Affects Proliferation and Drug Sensitivity through Altered Dynamics of Cell-State Transitions. Cell Syst. 2020 Jun 24.
    View on PubMed
  2. Sanman LE, Chen IW, Bieber JM, Thorne CA, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. Generation and Quantitative Imaging of Enteroid Monolayers. Methods Mol Biol. 2020; 2171:99-113.
    View on PubMed
  3. Rajaram S, Roth MA, Malato J, VandenBerg S, Hann B, Atreya CE, Altschuler SJ, Wu LF. A multi-modal data resource for investigating topographic heterogeneity in patient-derived xenograft tumors. Sci Data. 2019 10 31; 6(1):253.
    View on PubMed
  4. Hsu CH, Altschuler SJ, Wu LF. Patterns of Early p21 Dynamics Determine Proliferation-Senescence Cell Fate after Chemotherapy. Cell. 2019 07 11; 178(2):361-373.e12.
    View on PubMed
  5. Deng Y, Bao F, Dai Q, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. Scalable analysis of cell-type composition from single-cell transcriptomics using deep recurrent learning. Nat Methods. 2019 04; 16(4):311-314.
    View on PubMed
  6. Mender I, LaRanger R, Luitel K, Peyton M, Girard L, Lai TP, Batten K, Cornelius C, Dalvi MP, Ramirez M, Du W, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ, Brekken R, Martinez ED, Minna JD, Wright WE, Shay JW. Telomerase-Mediated Strategy for Overcoming Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Targeted Therapy and Chemotherapy Resistance. Neoplasia. 2018 08; 20(8):826-837.
    View on PubMed
  7. Kochanowski K, Morinishi L, Altschuler S, Wu L. Drug persistence - from antibiotics to cancer therapies. Curr Opin Syst Biol. 2018 Aug; 10:1-8.
    View on PubMed
  8. Thurley K, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. Modeling Cell-to-Cell Communication Networks Using Response-Time Distributions. Cell Syst. 2018 Mar 28; 6(3):355-367.e5.
    View on PubMed
  9. Thorne CA, Chen IW, Sanman LE, Cobb MH, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. Enteroid Monolayers Reveal an Autonomous WNT and BMP Circuit Controlling Intestinal Epithelial Growth and Organization. Dev Cell. 2018 03 12; 44(5):624-633.e4.
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  10. Rajaram S, Heinrich LE, Gordan JD, Avva J, Bonness KM, Witkiewicz AK, Malter JS, Atreya CE, Warren RS, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. Sampling strategies to capture single-cell heterogeneity. Nat Methods. 2017 Oct; 14(10):967-970.
    View on PubMed
  11. Deb D, Rajaram S, Larsen JE, Dospoy PD, Marullo R, Li LS, Avila K, Xue F, Cerchietti L, Minna JD, Altschuler SJ, Wu LF. Combination Therapy Targeting BCL6 and Phospho-STAT3 Defeats Intratumor Heterogeneity in a Subset of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancers. Cancer Res. 2017 06 01; 77(11):3070-3081.
    View on PubMed
  12. Zhang ER, Liu S, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ, Cobb MH. Chemoattractant concentration-dependent tuning of ERK signaling dynamics in migrating neutrophils. Sci Signal. 2016 12 13; 9(458):ra122.
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  13. Coster AD, Thorne CA, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. Examining Crosstalk among Transforming Growth Factor ß, Bone Morphogenetic Protein, and Wnt Pathways. J Biol Chem. 2017 Jan 06; 292(1):244-250.
    View on PubMed
  14. Deng Y, Altschuler SJ, Wu LF. PHOCOS: inferring multi-feature phenotypic crosstalk networks. Bioinformatics. 2016 06 15; 32(12):i44-i51.
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  15. Diz-Muñoz A, Thurley K, Chintamen S, Altschuler SJ, Wu LF, Fletcher DA, Weiner OD. Membrane Tension Acts Through PLD2 and mTORC2 to Limit Actin Network Assembly During Neutrophil Migration. PLoS Biol. 2016 06; 14(6):e1002474.
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  16. Ramirez M, Rajaram S, Steininger RJ, Osipchuk D, Roth MA, Morinishi LS, Evans L, Ji W, Hsu CH, Thurley K, Wei S, Zhou A, Koduru PR, Posner BA, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. Diverse drug-resistance mechanisms can emerge from drug-tolerant cancer persister cells. Nat Commun. 2016 Feb 19; 7:10690.
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  17. Kang J, Hsu CH, Wu Q, Liu S, Coster AD, Posner BA, Altschuler SJ, Wu LF. Improving drug discovery with high-content phenotypic screens by systematic selection of reporter cell lines. Nat Biotechnol. 2016 Jan; 34(1):70-77.
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  18. Langen M, Agi E, Altschuler DJ, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ, Hiesinger PR. The Developmental Rules of Neural Superposition in Drosophila. Cell. 2015 Jul 02; 162(1):120-33.
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  19. Wu J, Pipathsouk A, Keizer-Gunnink A, Fusetti F, Alkema W, Liu S, Altschuler S, Wu L, Kortholt A, Weiner OD. Homer3 regulates the establishment of neutrophil polarity. Mol Biol Cell. 2015 May 01; 26(9):1629-39.
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  20. Steininger RJ, Rajaram S, Girard L, Minna JD, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. On comparing heterogeneity across biomarkers. Cytometry A. 2015 Jun; 87(6):558-67.
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