I saw this job in a NYT times piece and was intrigued to see the mention of a computational biologist at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center. This is a job that couldn’t have existed in past, as throughout most of history we haven’t had computers that could do work in the way we do it today. I suppose we could possibly have had large numbers of people performing these tasks, but I’m not sure that would have been practical. I’m not even sure it would be feasible as the amount of resulting data might have easily overwhelmed any attempt at organization and understanding by a few individuals.
What I found interesting in the piece is that the “team does not do the basic science. … His group works on the computational pipeline. They try to improve the affordability and effectiveness of cancer treatments through automation. Their goal is to help scientists and doctors tailor treatments to an individual’s situation in a way that should increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.”
This use of data science and analysis is tackling quite a challenge here. The treatment of diverse humans is challenging, where each person can be slightly different in their biochemistry. What’s more, these diseases are still not well understood, and this doesn’t allow for a simple pattern that can be easily discerned from mounds of data. However bringing more analysis to the problem could have huge rewards for people suffering in the world.
I have hope that in the future data will continue to solve more problems like this and make the world a better place.