Dr. Bani Mallick, Susan M. Arseven '75 Chair in Data Science and Computational Statistics. (Photo by Leighton Jack '14)
Fighting Cancer with Data
Imagine the volumes of data collected on a cancer patient over time—an accounting of their medical history, lifestyle, symptoms, diagnosis, blood work, scans and treatment
response. According to a study by the National Cancer Institute, information gleaned from a patient’s tumor in a clinical trial can digitally equate to one terabyte, the equivalent of 130,000 books.
“If you multiply the voluminous information by the millions of people diagnosed with cancer annually, you begin to see the incredible size of the data,” said Texas A&M University statistician Bani Mallick, who was appointed to the Susan M. Arseven ’75 Chair in Data Science and Computational Statistics in the College of Science during the campaign.
Thanks to a $2.3 million National Institutes of Health grant, Mallick has his sights set on this problem and is developing new statistical models to merge cancer-related data and analysis.
Through the use of Bayesian statistics, he is creating an assortment of novel methods to integrate large cancer data across multiple research platforms for a better understanding of cancer characteristics and behavior. “The worlds of bioinformatics and big data are merging to discover innovative ways to integrate knowledge for cancer treatments,” he explained. “This way, we can improve its prevention, prediction and treatment. With cancer claiming the lives of so many people, it’s imperative to centralize the data we have and learn from it.”