Dr. John Weinstein
John Weinstein, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at MD Anderson, used to be a self-described “bi-coastal snob” who couldn’t imagine moving to Texas.
But that was before he discovered what a great place Houston is to live. And that was before he was offered the opportunity to build the program he now heads, a major component in the institution’s mission of ‘personalizing’ cancer treatment.
“The combined research by laboratory scientists, clinicians, bioinformaticists and biostatisticians at MD Anderson constitutes an engine for progress against cancer that is simply unmatched anywhere in the world,” he says.
A renowned scholar, investigator and inventor, Weinstein spent more than three decades at the National Cancer Institute. He has been first author on 11 publications in the prestigious journal Science and has been cited as a pioneer of postgenomic biology.
Often, one of the most difficult and time-consuming parts of scientific breakthroughs is analysis of the data. As scientists move closer to understanding the molecular basis of cancer, the role of bioinformatics in analysis and biological interpretation is crucial.
Better understanding will help tailor cancer treatment to specific cancer molecules, making treatment more effective and lowering the risk of side effects.
“For the first time in the history of cancer research, it’s easier to generate millions of data points on the molecules in tumors than to analyze or interpret them,” Weinstein says. “We are experiencing a true data tsunami and trying the best we can to cope with the deluge.”
Although he works in lab, Weinstein never forgets patients are the real focus of his research. “We see patients in waiting rooms and in the hallways every day,” he says. “This contact, plus my friends and family who’ve suffered from cancer, provide all the motivation I need to come in early and stay late.”