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Scott Brown: From Computer Science to Cancer Research

November 19, 2015

Hello and thank you for taking a look at our Immunogenomics blog posts. My name is Scott Brown, and I am a PhD Student in Dr. Robert Holt’s lab at the BC Cancer Agency.

I began working with Dr. Holt as an undergraduate in May 2011; this was my first introduction to cancer research. Within a short period of time, I began to understand how my computer science background and skills could be applied to cancer research – specifically in the field of immunogenomics, where complex algorithms are required to sift through extremely large data sets. In other words: looking for the needle in the haystack.

My project focuses on performing computational analysis on genomic data to better understand the interactions between tumours and the immune system. Tumours may contain hundreds or even thousands of mutations in their genomes, and some of these mutations may be identified as foreign by specific immune cells, known as T cells. I aim to identify which mutations, out of all those present in a patient’s tumour, are likely to be recognizable by T cells. These mutations may be good targets for T cell-based immunotherapies.

It is extremely rewarding to be working with such a talented team of scientists at the BC Cancer Agency, all of whom are highly motivated to develop new and effective cancer immunotherapies. I am excited for a future of immune-based therapies and am optimistic that these will improve the well-being of cancer patients in B.C. and beyond.

Thanks for reading,