Computer science in service of medicine

By October 18, 2019 No Comments

MIT’s Ray and Maria Stata Heart (Development 32), identified for its hanging outward look, could also be designed to foster collaboration some of the other folks within. Sitting within the well-known construction’s amphitheater on a brisk fall day, Kristy Wood worker smiles as she speaks enthusiastically about how interdisciplinary efforts between the fields of pc science and molecular biology are serving to boost up the method of drug discovery and design.

Wood worker, an MIT senior with a joint primary in each topics, mentioned she didn’t need to focus on just one or the opposite — it’s the intersection between each disciplines, and the appliance of that paintings to making improvements to human well being, that she unearths compelling.

“For me, to be truly fulfilled in my paintings as a scientist, I need to have some tangible affect,” she says. 

Wood worker explains that synthetic intelligence, which will assist compute the mixtures of compounds that might be higher for a specific drug, can cut back trial-and-error time and preferably quicken the method of designing new medications.

“I believe like serving to make medicine in a extra environment friendly way, or arising with some new drugs or solution to take on most cancers or Alzheimer’s or one thing, would truly make me really feel fulfilled,” she says.

Someday, Wood worker hopes to get a PhD and pursue computational approaches to biomedicine, most likely at probably the most nationwide laboratories or the Nationwide Institutes of Well being. She additionally plans to proceed advocating for variety and inclusion in science, generation, engineering, and arithmetic (STEM), right through her profession, drawing partially from her stories as a part of the management of the MIT bankruptcy of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and the MIT Ladies’s Unbiased Residing Staff.

Discovering her area of interest in STEM

Wood worker used to be first interested in pc science and coding in heart college. She recollects turning into engrossed in a program known as Scratch, spending hours within the pc lab enjoying with the block-based visible programming language, which, because it occurs, used to be evolved at MIT’s Media Lab.

As an MIT scholar, Wood worker discovered her manner into the computational biology primary after a summer time internship at Lawrence Livermore Nationwide Lab, the place researchers had been the use of pc simulations and physics to have a look at a specific protein implicated in tumors.

Subsequent, she were given addicted to the use of computational biology for drug discovery and design all the way through her sophomore yr, as an intern at Massachusetts Basic Health facility. There, she discovered that creating a brand new drug is usually a very lengthy, tedious, and sophisticated procedure that may take years, however that the use of gadget studying and screening medicine just about can assist hasten this procedure. She adopted that internship with an Undergraduate Analysis Alternatives Program (UROP) challenge within the lab of Professor Collin Stultz, inside the MIT Analysis Laboratory of Electronics.

Development neighborhood

For Wood worker, who is a part Eastern-American and section Alaskan Local and grew up outdoor of Seattle, the reality that there have been Local American scholars at MIT, albeit on the subject of a dozen of them, used to be crucial consider deciding the place to wait faculty. 

Quickly after Wood worker used to be admitted, a senior from MIT’s AISES bankruptcy known as her and informed her concerning the group. 


“They kind of recruited me earlier than I even got here right here,” she recollects. 

Wood worker is now the vp of the bankruptcy. The folks within the group, which Wood worker describes as a cultural staff at MIT, have develop into her shut buddies. 

“AISES has been a truly essential a part of my time right here,” Wood worker says. “At MIT, it’s most commonly about having a neighborhood of Local scholars because it’s really easy for us to get remoted right here. It’s exhausting to search out other folks of a equivalent background, and so AISES is a spot the place we will all accumulate simply to hang around, socialize, test in with every different.”

The group additionally places on film screenings and different occasions to “display that we exist and that there are Local other folks at MIT as a result of numerous other folks omit that.”

Wood worker first turned into a member of the nationwide AISES group as a highschool scholar, when she and her father made severe efforts to reconnect with their Alutiiq heritage. She started teaching herself extra concerning the historical past of Alaska Natives on Kodiak Island, and studying the Alutiiq language, which is significantly endangered — on the subject of a pair hundred other folks nonetheless discuss it or even fewer discuss it fluently. 

Wood worker began to show herself the language after which took a web-based elegance in highschool via Kodiak Faculty. She mentioned she discovered very elementary quantities and is aware of easy sentences and private introductions.

“I believe like studying the language used to be probably the most highest tactics to hook up with my tradition and kind of legitimize myself in some way. Additionally, I knew it used to be essential to stay the tradition round,” she says. “I’d all the time be telling my buddies about it and looking to train them what I used to be studying.”

Wood worker has additionally constructed her MIT neighborhood throughout the Ladies’s Unbiased Residing Staff, probably the most few all-women housing choices on the Institute. She joined the gang of about 40 women folk the spring semester of her sophomore yr.

“I truly respect the gang as a result of there’s numerous variety in primary and variety in [graduation] yr,” she says. “The dwelling staff is supposed to be a robust neighborhood of girls at MIT.”

Wood worker is now the president of the dwelling staff, which has been a vital supply of give a boost to for her. When she used to be looking to building up her iron consumption so she may just donate blood, her buddies within the dwelling staff helped cook dinner foods and cheered her on.

Wood worker additionally hopes to upward push within the ranks on the organizations the place she finally ends up running after MIT, taking a management position in advocating for variety, fairness, and inclusion.

“I don’t need to lose sight of the place I got here from or my heritage or being a girl in STEM,” Wood worker says. “Anywhere I finally end up running, I expectantly will transfer up and stay my Local and Asian id visual, to be an instance for others.”