Statistical Enrichment Analysis of Samples: A General-Purpose Tool to Annotate Metadata Neighborhoods of Biological Samples

Academic Article


  • Unsupervised learning techniques, such as clustering and embedding, have been increasingly popular to cluster biomedical samples from high-dimensional biomedical data. Extracting clinical data or sample meta-data shared in common among biomedical samples of a given biological condition remains a major challenge. Here, we describe a powerful analytical method called Statistical Enrichment Analysis of Samples (SEAS) for interpreting clustered or embedded sample data from omics studies. The method derives its power by focusing on sample sets, i.e., groups of biological samples that were constructed for various purposes, e.g., manual curation of samples sharing specific characteristics or automated clusters generated by embedding sample omic profiles from multi-dimensional omics space. The samples in the sample set share common clinical measurements, which we refer to as “clinotypes,” such as age group, gender, treatment status, or survival days. We demonstrate how SEAS yields insights into biological data sets using glioblastoma (GBM) samples. Notably, when analyzing the combined The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA)—patient-derived xenograft (PDX) data, SEAS allows approximating the different clinical outcomes of radiotherapy-treated PDX samples, which has not been solved by other tools. The result shows that SEAS may support the clinical decision. The SEAS tool is publicly available as a freely available software package at
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Nguyen TM; Bharti S; Yue Z; Willey CD; Chen JY
  • Volume

  • 4