Muhammed Murtaza

Muhammed Murtaza M.B.B.S. (M.D.), Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Center for Noninvasive Diagnostics


Muhammed Murtaza M.B.B.S. (M.D.), Ph.D.

Dr. Muhammed Murtaza received his medical degree from Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan before moving to Trinity College and Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute to get a PhD from the University of Cambridge. He started his research career investigating germline determinants of disease predisposition in South Asians before moving to Cambridge to work with Dr. Nitzan Rosenfeld on cell-free DNA analysis. He moved to TGen from Cambridge in 2014 and is co-appointed as Research Faculty at Mayo Clinic Arizona. 

Dr. Murtaza continues development of minimally invasive cancer diagnostics at TGen supported by awards and grants from Mayo Clinic Arizona, Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation, Science Foundation Arizona, The V Foundation for Cancer Research, Stand Up To Cancer, Baylor Research Institute and the Tanner Project Foundation.



Multifocal clonal evolution characterized using circulating tumor DNA in a case of metastatic breast cancer. Murtaza M*, Dawson SJ*, Provenzano E, Grant J, Chin SF, Tsui DWY, Marass F, Gale D, Ali HR, Shah P, Contente-Cuomo T, Farahani H, Shumansky K, Kingsbury Z, Humphray S, Bentley D, Shah SP, Wallis M, Rosenfeld N, Caldas C. Nature Communications (2015 Nov, PMID: 26530965) *equal authorship 

Murtaza M*, Dawson SJ*, Tsui DWY*, Gale D, Forshew T, Piskorz AM, Parkinson C, Chin SF, Kingsbury Z, Wong ASC, Marass F, Humphray S, Hadfield J, Bentley D, Chin TM, Brenton JD, Caldas C, Rosenfeld N. Noninvasive analysis of acquired resistance to cancer therapy by sequencing of plasma DNA. Nature (2013 May, PMID: 23563269) *equal authorship 

Circulating Tumor DNA to Monitor Metastatic Breast Cancer.Dawson SJ, Tsui D, Murtaza M, Biggs H, Rueda OM, Chin SF, Dunning MJ, Gale D, Forshew T, Mahler-Araujo B, Rajan S, Humphray S, Becq J, Halsall D, Wallis M, Bentley D, Caldas C, Rosenfeld N. New England Journal of Medicine (2013 Mar, PMID: 23484797)

Noninvasive identification and monitoring of cancer mutations by targeted deep sequencing of plasma DNA. Forshew T*, Murtaza M*, Parkinson C*, Gale D*, Tsui DWY*, Kaper F, Dawson SJ, Piskorz AM, Jimenez-Linan M, Bentley D, Hadfield J, May AP, Caldas C, Brenton JD, Rosenfeld N.  Science Translational Medicine (2012 May, PMID: 22649089) *equal authorship

Cancers are characterized by genetic mutations and doctors are increasingly relying on identify these mutations from tumor biopsies to guide the cancer care. These mutations are typically identified by analyzing tumor biopsies obtained from cancer patients at the time of their diagnosis. However, when patients progress on any given treatment, cancers are known to evolve and change their molecular composition. At this point, the information from the original biopsy is most likely outdated and a new biopsy is needed. 

In the Murtaza Lab at TGen, we are interested in developing an alternate to tissue re-biopsies in the form of "liquid biopsies", minimally-invasive molecular diagnostics for patients with cancer using circulating tumor DNA analysis. Unlike protein changes or gene expression that look for relative differences, this approach relies on somatic mutations in cell-free plasma DNA that are exquisitely specific to tumor cells. 

Once technical challenges are overcome, circulating tumor DNA can help improve cancer care in multiple ways including as a biomarker for: 

Working with our many collaborators and supporters, we continue to strive to improve methods for molecular analyses of cell-free DNA and to investigate the clinical utility of circulating tumor DNA for cancer diagnostics.


Tania Contente-Cuomo
Research Associate III and Lab Manager

Nieves Perdigones, PhD
Senior Postdoctoral Fellow

Pankti Shah
Graduate Student in Bioinformatics

Alexandra Nazareno
Undergraduate Intern

Havell Markus
Undergraduate Intern

Brenda Ernst, MD
Visiting Scientist

Mehreen Kisat, MD
Visiting Scientist

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