Lichun Ma, Ph.D.

Lichun Ma, Ph.D.

  • Center for Cancer Research
  • National Cancer Institute
Cancer Data Science Laboratory


Lichun Ma, Ph.D., is a systems biologist with a specific focus on understanding the intrinsic tumor biology of liver cancer using single-cell and spatial approaches. Her research centers on tumor heterogeneity in the context of tumor initiation and evolution with the goal of improving early detection and therapeutics for liver cancer.  In addition to her role as a principal investigator within the Cancer Data Science Laboratory, Dr. Ma is also affiliated with the CCR Liver Cancer Program.

Areas of Expertise


Selected Key Publications

Tumor Cell Biodiversity Drives Microenvironmental Reprogramming in Liver Cancer

Ma L, Hernandez MO, Zhao Y, Mehta M, Tran B, Kelly M, Rae Z, Hernandez JM, Davis JL, Martin SP, Kleiner DE, Hewitt SM, Ylaya K, Wood BJ, Greten TF, Wang XW.
Cancer Cell. 36(4): 418-430, 2019.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Single-cell atlas of tumor cell evolution in response to therapy in hepatocellular carcinoma and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma

Ma L, Wang L, Khatib SA, Chang CW, Heinrich S, Dominguez DA, Forgues M, Candia J, Hernandez MO, Kelly M, Zhao Y, Tran B, Hernandez JM, Davis JL, Kleiner DE, Wood BJ, Greten TF, Wang XW.
J Hepatol. 75(6): 1397-1408, 2021.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Immunology and immunotherapy of cholangiocarcinoma

Greten TF, Schwabe R, Bardeesy N, Ma L, Goyal L, Kelley RK, Wang XW
Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2023.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Dissecting liver tumor heterogeneity to improve health equity

Ma L, Wang XW.
Trends in Cancer. Jan 7: S2405-8033(21)00249-1, 2022.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Multiregional single-cell dissection of tumor and immune cells reveals stable lock-and-key features in liver cancer

Ma L, Heinrich S, Wang L, Keggenhoff FL, Khatib S, Forgues M, Kelly M, Hewitt SM, Saif A, Hernandez JM, Mabry D, Kloeckner R, Greten TF, Chaisaingmongkol J, Ruchirawat M, Marquardt JU, Wang XW.
Nature Communications. 2022.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]


Cherry Li
Caiyi (Cherry) Li, Ph.D.
Dr. Meng Liu
Meng Liu, Ph.D.
Melody Lee
Melody Lee, B.S.
Alan Li


Cover-Cancer Cell

Dissecting Tumor Cell Biodiversity by A Single-cell Approach

Published Date

On the cover: Liver cancers are molecularly and biologically heterogenous, which contributes to their therapeutic failures and lethal outcomes. Ma et al. (pp. 418–430) have developed a single-cell-based approach to determine tumor cell communities (depicted as dice emptying out of a jar) and uncover a unique liver cancer ecosystem relevant to immune therapy. A tumor cell community is depicted by dice with different colors and shapes, where color represents cell type and shape represents unique molecular properties. Artwork by Ethan Tyler.


Ma L, Hernandez MO, Zhao Y, Mehta M, Tran B, Kelly M, Rae Z, Hernandez JM, Davis JL, Martin SP, Kleiner DE, Hewitt SM, Ylaya K, Wood BJ, Greten TF, Wang XW. Tumor cell biodiversity drives microenvironmental reprogramming in liver cancer. Cancer Cell 36: 418-30, 2019; PMID: 31588021.