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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The AutoNation Cure Bowl Award

Area(s) of Focus

David Agus, MD

Professor of Medicine and Engineering
Keck School of Medicine and
Viterbi School of Engineering
Director, USC Center for Applied Molecular Medicine
Director, USC Westside Cancer Center
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California

Current Research

Computational modeling has shown promise in explaining aspects of cancer, but it has not yet demonstrated its potential in helping clinicians and patients in making treatment decisions. Meanwhile, ever-improving experimental and imaging methods have fueled a cancer “data tsunami.” Because much of this information is buried in spreadsheets and digital images, they cannot be easily used by computer models. This is a particularly pressing problem in pathology, where patterns in a patient’s tissue (how their cells, blood vessels, and other structures are arranged) act much like an airliner’s black box: They record the current state of the cancer, but also reflect its evolutionary history and hint at the future course. If computers could “see” these structures, they could improve treatment planning. With support from BCRF, Drs. Agus and Macklin are leading an international team of data scientists, mathematicians, biologists and clinicians to develop a “data language” for cancer cells and tissues. They have built a public library of over 200 digital cell lines representing a new standard for recording properties of cancer cell lines. In the coming year they will apply these advances to build a public library of digitized breast tissues, create software to automatically analyze the tissues and create a prognostic tissue structure “score” and test their predictions on a clinical dataset. In the future, this automated tissue scoring system could be readily expanded and offer unbiased, data-driven recommendations toward the care of all cancer patients.


Dr. David B. Agus is a professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and Viterbi School of Engineering and heads the USC Westside Cancer Center and the USC Center for Applied Molecular Medicine. Dr. Agus leads a multidisciplinary team of researchers dedicated to the development and use of technologies to guide doctors in making health-care decisions tailored to individual needs, and directs a National Cancer Institute Physical Sciences in Oncology Center at USC.  He is a medial oncologist, and the co-founder of two personalized medicine companies, Navigenics and Applied Proteomics. Dr. Agus is an international leader in new technologies and approaches for personalized healthcare. Dr. Agus’ first book called "The End of Illness" was published in 2012 and is a New York Times #1 and international best seller and was the subject of a PBS series, and his most recent book "A Short Guide to a Long Life" is also a New York Times and international bestseller.