On Dec. 1, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center named computational biologist Dr. Robert Bradley scientific director of the Hutch’s Translational Data Science Integrated Research Center.
The Hutch originally launched the Translational Data Science IRC to leverage recent advances and spur future innovation in large-scale biological experiments, computational methods and infrastructure. Its goal is to infuse data science throughout the bench-to-bedside discovery cycle and to fuel new research opportunities by fostering increased interaction between Fred Hutch’s experimental and clinical researchers and their quantitative and computational science colleagues, as well as with external groups.
“Rob is a fantastic scientist who is translating data-driven basic discoveries into new therapeutic strategies for cancer,” said Dr. Bruce Clurman, executive vice president and deputy director of the Hutch, and holder of the Rosput Reynolds Endowed Chair. “As a faculty leader, he has demonstrated a personal commitment to advancing the Hutch's multidisciplinary efforts by integrating data science insights and activities with our research portfolio. His strong desire to develop and lead cross-disciplinary teams of doctors, laboratory scientists and computer scientists will help us continue building on the progress of the Translational Data Science IRC.”
Bradley fills the role vacated earlier in 2021 by Dr. Raphael Gottardo, who launched the Translational Data Science IRC in 2018. In addition to his new faculty leadership position, Bradley will retain his current roles of professor in the Herbold Computational Biology Program in the Public Health Sciences Division as well as a professor in the Basic Sciences Division. He will also continue to hold the McIlwain Family Endowed Chair in Data Science.
Bradley said that in his new role, he hopes to help data science become a greater part of research across the Hutch.
“My vision for our Translational Data Science Integrated Research Center is to ensure that data science is fundamentally integrated into the work of as many Hutch labs and across as many research areas as possible,” Bradley said. “My initial priorities are to recruit more data science experts with interdisciplinary research programs and promote data science skills and knowledge across all labs.”
That growth will be critical for making progress against cancer, he said.
Over the next five years, “data science will become even more tightly woven into the fabric of cancer research than it is now,” he said. “Two specific changes that I hope to see are increasing integration of diverse data types, such as information on both gene expression [how genes are turned on and off in a cell] and cell morphology [shape and structure], as well as increasing adoption of data science methods for rapid profiling of clinical samples to inform treatment regimens.”
Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. Thomas J. Lynch Jr. said that the Hutch is well-situated to be at the forefront of this changing field.
“There’s no better place than Seattle for translational data science,” said Lynch, holder of the Raisbeck Endowed Chair. “The resources and expertise in our region combined with the spirit of collaboration will enable us to make great strides in precision oncology. Rob’s leadership will help advance our understanding of cancer and other diseases resulting in cures and treatments that patients urgently need.”
Bradley joined the Hutch in 2011 from a postdoctoral position at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His portfolio of research interests includes molecular cancer biology, the body’s immune response to cancer and RNA-based cancer therapeutics. His lab also develops computational methods for seeking molecular patterns in large datasets with the hope of shedding light on cancer biology and pointing the way toward new therapies for cancer and related diseases. Some of Bradley’s projects, like many in the Hutch’s Integrated Research Centers, are made possible by donors and other funding sources beyond traditional grants.
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