Digital rendering of human brain

Gift of $10 Million Helps Visionary Partnership Accelerate Cancer Research

  • Jun 22, 2022

Cancer is one of the greatest health challenges of our time. Over the past 50 years, clinical advances have substantially reduced the mortality rate for people diagnosed with cancer; however, new clinical breakthroughs often require years of trial and error in the lab.  

An innovative partnership between The University of Texas at Austin’s Machine Learning LabOden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences and Dell Medical School aims to accelerate those discoveries, saving lives in the process. Research that previously would have taken years in a laboratory can potentially be accomplished in days by developing mathematical models of those experiments to test on computers.  

The research collaboration is possible because of a $10 million leadership gift from UT Austin alumnus Dheeraj Pandey and his wife, Sapna.   

Dheeraj and Sapna Pandey pose for a photo

“The biggest promise of computational oncology is personalized medicine, the ability for us to answer questions that save precious lives,” said Dheeraj Pandey, founder and former CEO and chairman of pioneering cloud purveyor Nutanix. “More importantly, the field is attempting to break silos between physics, biology and computing researchers who are fighting indefatigably against cancer.”  

The Oden Institute’s Center for Computational Oncology sits at the forefront of developing mechanism-based modeling techniques that optimize treatment and outcomes for an individual patient. Substantial computational skills and medical knowledge are required to capture the individuality of each patient’s situation to inform accurate decision making at all levels. 

“UT Austin has a unique environment that enables the interdisciplinary research critical to tackling societal grand challenges such as personalized care for cancer patients,” said Karen Willcox, Director of the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences. “We are so thrilled to have this opportunity to build a new partnership with the Machine Learning Lab, building on the Oden Institute’s strength in computational oncology and our existing partnerships with Dell Med, MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Texas Advanced Computing Center. Computational medicine is a top priority for the Oden Institute and the generosity of the Pandey family is a game changer in taking our efforts to a new level.”  

Read more about support for UT Austin’s computational oncology research in UT News.