UT Austin, MD Anderson team up on massive effort to end cancer using imaging, advanced computing

The University of Texas and MD Anderson Cancer on Monday announced the first projects to receive funding through a new collaboration the pair initially publicized in June.

By combining oncology experts with the latest in MR imaging, mathematical modeling and advanced computing, the alliance hopes to develop new approaches to treat patients with various forms of cancer.

UT Austin’s Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences and the UT Austin Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) are also part of the collaboration.

Below are the initial five projects from the upcoming endeavor:

1. Both Ken Pin Hwang of MD Anderson and Jon Tamir of the Oden Institute will use mathematical modeling and “parallel distributed” computing to make prostate MRI quicker and more accurate. Their goal is to reduce unnecessary or inaccurate biopsies.

2. Oden Institute researchers Tinsley Oden and Prashant Jha are teaming up with David Fuentes with MD Anderson to pair advanced MR imaging with a new tumor growth model to uncover metabolic changes in such cysts and establish new treatments.

3. MD Anderson’s Maia Rauch and Angela Jarrett with the Oden Institute will create a patient-tailored model to predict treatment responses and design individualized therapy approaches for people with triple-negative breast cancer.

4. Using biological computational models, Caroline Chung with MD Anderson and David Hormuth of the Oden Institute will alter radiotherapy and chemotherapy approaches to improve survival rates in individuals with brain cancer.

5. Hang Liu of TACC and MD Anderson’s Xiaodong Zhang will use a new platform combining advanced algorithms and high-performance computing to advance personalized proton therapy treatments.

“These five research teams, made up of a cross section of expertise from all three stakeholders, represent the beginning of something truly special,” David Jaffray, chief technology and digital officer at MD Anderson, said in a statement. “Our experts are advancing cancer research and care, and we are committed to working with our colleagues at the Oden Institute and TACC to bring together their computational expertise with our data and insights.”