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Benjamin T. Spike

Benjamin T. Spike, PhD

Languages spoken: English, German

Academic Information

Departments Primary - Oncological Sciences

Research Interests

  • Stem Cells
  • Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Developmental Biology
  • Single Cell Omics
  • Cellular Heterogeneity
  • Microenvironment

Benjamin Spike, PhD, is an investigator at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) and an assistant professor in the Department of Oncological Sciences at the University of Utah. He is a member of the Cancer Center in the Cell Response and Regulation Program, a faculty member of the Molecular Biology graduate program and a member of the HCI Disease Oriented Team focused on Women's Cancers (WCDOT).

Dr. Spike’s research seeks to understand the molecular regulators of cell behavior in complex tissues during normal development and cancer. Work in his laboratory is currently focused on stem cells in mammary gland development and breast cancer. His laboratory uses single cell transcriptomics and computational approaches, as well as molecular/genetic cell engineering, 2D and 3D culture systems and in vivo experimental models.

Dr. Spike received undergraduate degrees and a Masters degree from the University of California, San Diego. He received his PhD in Cancer Biology from the University of Chicago. He subsequently trained with Geoffrey M. Wahl, PhD, at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and was a staff scientist there before joining HCI and the University of Utah at the end of 2015.

Education History

Postdoctoral Training Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Postdoctoral Training
University of Chicago
Graduate Training University of California, San Diego
Georg-August University
Visiting Scholar
Undergraduate University of California, San Diego
Undergraduate University of California, San Diego

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  1. Polanco ER, Moustafa TE, Butterfield A, Scherer SD, Cortes-Sanchez E, Bodily T, Spike BT, Welm BE, Bernard PS, Zangle TA (2022). Multiparametric quantitative phase imaging for real-time, single cell, drug screening in breast cancer. Commun Biol, 5(1), 794. (Read full article)
  2. Orstad G, Fort G, Parnell TJ, Jones A, Stubben C, Lohman B, Gillis KL, Orellana W, Tariq R, Klingbeil O, Kaestner K, Vakoc CR, Spike BT, Snyder EL (2022). FoxA1 and FoxA2 control growth and cellular identity in NKX2-1-positive lung adenocarcinoma. Dev Cell, 57(15), 1866-1882.e10. (Read full article)
  3. Balcioglu O, Heinz RE, Freeman DW, Gates BL, Hagos BM, Booker E, Mirzaei Mehrabad E, Diesen HT, Bhakta K, Ranganathan S, Kachi M, Leblanc M, Gray PC, Spike BT (2020). CRIPTO antagonist ALK4L75A-Fc inhibits breast cancer cell plasticity and adaptation to stress. Breast Cancer Res, 22(1), 125. (Read full article)
  4. Cowman SJ, Fuja DG, Liu XD, Tidwell RSS, Kandula N, Sirohi D, Agarwal AM, Emerson LL, Tripp SR, Mohlman JS, Stonhill M, Garcia G, Conley CJ, Olalde AA, Sargis T, Ramirez-Torres A, Karam JA, Wood CG, Sircar K, Tamboli P, Boucher K, Maughan B, Spike BT, Ho TH, Agarwal N, Jonasch E, Koh MY (2020). Macrophage HIF-1α Is an Independent Prognostic Indicator in Kidney Cancer. Clin Cancer Res, 26(18), 4970-4982. (Read full article)
  5. Ireland AS, Micinski AM, Kastner DW, Guo B, Wait SJ, Spainhower KB, Conley CC, Chen OS, Guthrie MR, Soltero D, Qiao Y, Huang X, Tarapcsk S, Devarakonda S, Chalishazar MD, Gertz J, Moser JC, Marth G, Puri S, Witt BL, Spike BT, Oliver TG (2020). MYC Drives Temporal Evolution of Small Cell Lung Cancer Subtypes by Reprogramming Neuroendocrine Fate. Cancer Cell, 38(1), 60-78.e12. (Read full article)
  6. Jiao X, Li Z, Wang M, Katiyar S, Di Sante G, Farshchian M, South AP, Cocola C, Colombo D, Reinbold R, Zucchi I, Wu K, Tabas I, Spike BT, Pestell RG (2018). Dachshund Depletion Disrupts Mammary Gland Development and Diverts the Composition of the Mammary Gland Progenitor Pool. Stem Cell Reports, 12(1), 135-151. (Read full article)
  7. Giraddi RR, Chung CY, Heinz RE, Balcioglu O, Novotny M, Trejo CL, Dravis C, Hagos BM, Mehrabad EM, Rodewald LW, Hwang JY, Fan C, Lasken R, Varley KE, Perou CM, Wahl GM, Spike BT (2017). Single-Cell Transcriptomes Distinguish Stem Cell State Changes and Lineage Specification Programs in Early Mammary Gland Development. Cell Rep, 24(6), 1653-1666.e7. (Read full article)
  8. Saison-Ridinger M, DelGiorno KE, Zhang T, Kraus A, French R, Jaquish D, Tsui C, Erikson G, Spike BT, Shokhirev MN, Liddle C, Yu RT, Downes M, Evans RM, Saghatelian A, Lowy AM, Wahl GM (2017). Reprogramming pancreatic stellate cells via p53 activation: A putative target for pancreatic cancer therapy. PLoS One, 12(12), e0189051. (Read full article)
  9. Trejo CL, Luna G, Dravis C, Spike BT, Wahl GM (2017). Lgr5 is a marker for fetal mammary stem cells, but is not essential for stem cell activity or tumorigenesis. NPJ Breast Cancer, 3, 16. (Read full article)
  10. Wahl GM, Spike BT (2017). Cell state plasticity, stem cells, EMT, and the generation of intra-tumoral heterogeneity. NPJ Breast Cancer, 3, 14. (Read full article)
  11. Dravis C, Spike BT, Harrell JC, Johns C, Trejo CL, Southard-Smith EM, Perou CM, Wahl GM (2015). Sox10 Regulates Stem/Progenitor and Mesenchymal Cell States in Mammary Epithelial Cells. Cell Rep, 12(12), 2035-48. (Read full article)
  12. Pfefferle AD, Spike BT, Wahl GM, Perou CM (2015). Luminal progenitor and fetal mammary stem cell expression features predict breast tumor response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Breast Cancer Res Treat, 149(2), 425-37. (Read full article)
  13. Klauzinska M, Castro NP, Rangel MC, Spike BT, Gray PC, Bertolette D, Cuttitta F, Salomon D (2014). The multifaceted role of the embryonic gene Cripto-1 in cancer, stem cells and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Semin Cancer Biol, 29, 51-8. (Read full article)
  14. Zhu G, Wang M, Spike B, Gray PC, Shen J, Lee SH, Chen SY, Lee AS (2014). Differential requirement of GRP94 and GRP78 in mammary gland development. Sci Rep, 4, 5390. (Read full article)
  15. Spike BT, Kelber JA, Booker E, Kalathur M, Rodewald R, Lipianskaya J, La J, He M, Wright T, Klemke R, Wahl GM, Gray PC (2014). CRIPTO/GRP78 signaling maintains fetal and adult mammary stem cells ex vivo. Stem Cell Reports, 2(4), 427-39. (Read full article)
  16. Pfefferle AD, Herschkowitz JI, Usary J, Harrell JC, Spike BT, Adams JR, Torres-Arzayus MI, Brown M, Egan SE, Wahl GM, Rosen JM, Perou CM (2013). Transcriptomic classification of genetically engineered mouse models of breast cancer identifies human subtype counterparts. Genome Biol, 14(11), R125. (Read full article)
  17. Makarem M, Spike BT, Dravis C, Kannan N, Wahl GM, Eaves CJ (2013). Stem cells and the developing mammary gland. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia, 18(2), 209-19. (Read full article)
  18. Spike BT, Engle DD, Lin JC, Cheung SK, La J, Wahl GM (2012). A mammary stem cell population identified and characterized in late embryogenesis reveals similarities to human breast cancer. Cell Stem Cell, 10(2), 183-97. (Read full article)
  19. Spike BT, Wahl GM (2011). p53, Stem Cells, and Reprogramming: Tumor Suppression beyond Guarding the Genome. Genes Cancer, 2(4), 404-19. (Read full article)
  20. Mizuno H, Spike BT, Wahl GM, Levine AJ (2010). Inactivation of p53 in breast cancers correlates with stem cell transcriptional signatures. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 107(52), 22745-50. (Read full article)
  21. Liu H, Knabb JR, Spike BT, Macleod KF (2009). Elevated poly-(ADP-ribose)-polymerase activity sensitizes retinoblastoma-deficient cells to DNA damage-induced necrosis. Mol Cancer Res, 7(7), 1099-109. (Read full article)
  22. Dirlam A, Spike BT, Macleod KF (2007). Deregulated E2f-2 underlies cell cycle and maturation defects in retinoblastoma null erythroblasts. Mol Cell Biol, 27(24), 8713-28. (Read full article)
  23. Spike BT, Macleod KF (2007). Effects of hypoxia on heterotypic macrophage interactions. Cell Cycle, 6(21), 2620-4. (Read full article)
  24. Spike BT, Dibling BC, Macleod KF (2007). Hypoxic stress underlies defects in erythroblast islands in the Rb-null mouse. Blood, 110(6), 2173-81. (Read full article)
  25. Tracy K, Dibling BC, Spike BT, Knabb JR, Schumacker P, Macleod KF (2007). BNIP3 is an RB/E2F target gene required for hypoxia-induced autophagy. Mol Cell Biol, 27(17), 6229-42. (Read full article)
  26. Diwan A, Koesters AG, Odley AM, Pushkaran S, Baines CP, Spike BT, Daria D, Jegga AG, Geiger H, Aronow BJ, Molkentin JD, Macleod KF, Kalfa TA, Dorn GW 2nd (2007). Unrestrained erythroblast development in Nix-/- mice reveals a mechanism for apoptotic modulation of erythropoiesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 104(16), 6794-9. (Read full article)
  27. Spike BT, Macleod KF (2005). The Rb tumor suppressor in stress responses and hematopoietic homeostasis. Cell Cycle, 4(1), 42-5. (Read full article)
  28. Spike BT, Dirlam A, Dibling BC, Marvin J, Williams BO, Jacks T, Macleod KF (2004). The Rb tumor suppressor is required for stress erythropoiesis. EMBO J, 23(21), 4319-29. (Read full article)
  29. Liu H, Dibling B, Spike B, Dirlam A, Macleod K (2004). New roles for the RB tumor suppressor protein. Curr Opin Genet Dev, 14(1), 55-64. (Read full article)
  30. Rowley AH, Shulman ST, Spike BT, Mask CA, Baker SC (2001). Oligoclonal IgA response in the vascular wall in acute Kawasaki disease. J Immunol, 166(2), 1334-43. (Read full article)
  31. Max N, Wolf K, Spike B, Thiel E, Keilholz U (2001). Nested quantitative real time PCR for detection of occult tumor cells. Recent Results Cancer Res, 158, 25-31. (Read full article)
  32. Aladjem MI, Spike BT, Rodewald LW, Hope TJ, Klemm M, Jaenisch R, Wahl GM (1998). ES cells do not activate p53-dependent stress responses and undergo p53-independent apoptosis in response to DNA damage. Curr Biol, 8(3), 145-55. (Read full article)

Book Chapter

  1. Spike BT (2016). Breast Cancer Stem Cells and the Move Toward High-Resolution Stem Cell Systems. In Liu H, Lathia J (Eds.), Cancer Stem Cells: Targeting the Roots of Cancer, Seeds of Metastasis, and Sources of Therapy Resistance (1st Edition). Academic Press.
  2. Keilholz U, Max N, Spike B, Willhauk M (2000). PCR-based detection of malignant cells: Towards molecular staging? In Kirkwood JM (Ed.), Strategies in Adjuvant Therapy (pp. 1-18). Martin Dunitz Ltd.


  1. Kelber JA, Iwanicki M, Kruithof-de Julio M, Spike BT, Martnez-Montemayor MM (2024). Editorial: Mechanisms of microenvironment governed plasticity and progression in solid tumors. Front Cell Dev Biol, 12, 1373496. (Read full article)