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Could leveraging the power of computers to study the origins of cancer lead to eradicating the disease?

Air Date: December 10, 2019 | Length: 31:00

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Michael Hoffman

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Episode Description:

In this episode of Behind the Breakthrough, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre scientist Dr. Michael Hoffman explains how he leverages the power and speed of computers to understand the origins of cancer. He says cancer is a disease of the DNA – the genetic code that determines our individual characteristics. Essentially, our DNA acts as a program telling our cells what to do. In the case of cancer the wrong program gets run and cells divide in an unrestricted manner. The goal of Dr. Hoffman’s lab is to determine if there is a way of predicting when the wrong program gets run – before it ever happens.

We also learn that from age 4 Dr. Hoffman was in awe of the magic of computers, and how he turned his love for computers into a career in the emerging field of computational biology. He also speaks to the critical importance of training the next generation of cancer researchers, and how he views Twitter as a virtual meeting place for scientific exchange.


Hoffman and tudents
About Dr. Michael Hoffman

Dr. Michael Hoffman is a principal investigator at UHN's Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Assistant Professor in the Departments of Medical Biophysics and Computer Science at the University of Toronto.

A leader in the field of computational biology, Dr. Hoffman creates predictive computational models to understand interactions between genome, epigenome, and phenotype in human cancers. In short, he uses computers to figure out things about biology. He was named a CIHR New Investigator and has received several awards for his academic work, including the NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award, and the Ontario Early Researcher Award.


About the Host

Christian Cote is Special Advisor — Strategy and New Media in UHN’s Public Affairs department. One of his primary roles is writing and producing compelling print and emotive video stories about UHN doctors, researchers, scientists and health care workers that target a mainstream audience. Prior to joining UHN in 2010, Cote was an award-winning investigative and sports television producer for TV networks including CBC, CTV, Discovery Channel, and APTN.

Produced By: Jordana Goldman and Jessie Park | Host: Christian Cote | Studio Engineer: Tim Chipman