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 ]

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 ]

Spatial proximity of tumor-immune interactions predicts patient outcome in hepatocellular carcinoma

Maestri M, Kedei N, Khatib S, Forgues M, Ylaya K, Hewitt SM, Wang L, Chaisaingmongkol J, Ruchirawat M, Ma L*, Wang XW*
Hepatology. 2023.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Lineage and ecology define liver tumor evolution in response to treatment

Revsine M, Wang L, Forgues M, Behrens S, Craig AJ, Liu M, Tran B, Kelly M, Budhu A, Monge C, Xie C, Hernandez JM, Greten TF, Wang XW, Ma L
Cell Reports Medicine. 2024.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Job Vacancies

About the Lab

  • Stable funding
  • Exciting research that spans cancer biology, mathematical modeling, and translational science with the goal of improving early detection and therapeutics for cancer.
  • Applying cutting-edge technologies including single-cell sequencing and spatial sequencing to profiling patient-derived tumor samples.
  • Various collaboration opportunities
  • Interaction opportunities with exceptional basic scientists, computational biologists, and clinicians at NIH.
  • Numerous opportunities for exposure at NIH and international conferences.
  • The NIH Intramural Research Program is the largest biomedical research institution in the world, with 1,200 principal investigators and over 4,000 postdoctoral fellows conducting basic, translational, and clinical research.

Required and Preferred Skills

  • Positions in both computational biology and cancer biology are available. Programming and analytical skillsets are required for positions in computational biology. Strong wet-lab background is required for tumor biology.
  • Background in molecular biology, genetics, immunology, computational biology, bioinformatics or a similar field is preferred but not required.

How to Apply?

  • Send an e-mail to
  • Include your CV, Statement of Research Goals, and when/for how long you want to join the lab.


Dr. Meng Liu
Meng Liu, Ph.D.
Wenqi Wu, Ph.D.
Melody Lee
Melody Lee, B.S.
Ethan Levy, B.S.


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.