SCI Women’s Cancer Center Innovation Awardee

October 2023

A $50,000 SCI Women's Cancer Center Innovation Award was awarded to James Zou, PhD, assistant professor of biomedical data science for his proposal titled “Systematic pan-cancer analysis of sex dimorphism in response to treatments using large real-world clinicogenomics data.”. Zou’s work aims to make machine learning more reliable, human-compatible, and statistically rigorous, and he is particularly interested in applications of machine learning to human disease and health.

Cancer is a complex disease with varying responses to treatments. Importantly, emerging evidence suggests that a patient’s sex plays a crucial role in treatment outcomes. However, a comprehensive analysis of sex differences in treatment responses across multiple common cancer types has not been done. Through the support of the SCI Women's Cancer Center Innovation Award, Zou aims to address this knowledge gap. He will utilize large-scale real-world clinical data from the electronic health records of 302,867 U.S. patients, including details about genetic mutations, treatment history, and treatment results. He will systematically quantify the relationship between sex and treatment responses across 20 common types of cancer using data science and machine learning. The study, the largest such analysis undertaken to date, will focus on analyzing treatment-specific outcomes in women, providing valuable information for devising personalized cancer therapy plans.