This month marks a major milestone for me. I have just joined IBM’s Watson Group. I will be focusing on cognitive computing solutions for Healthcare and Life Sciences. Combining my professional passion around software engineering with my personal interest in oncology is something that I have dreamt about for the last sixteen years. I have always wanted to do work that benefits people in need.
My first taste of an altruistic project was with The Global Fund, around five years ago. This was a little bit before IBM acquired Lombardi Software and I was leading an initiative for helping The Global Fund improve their grants review and renewal process. The Global Fund is an impressive organization. It works in partnership with governments, civil society and private sector to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This means specifically mobilizing investments to support local programs to prevent and heal people who can/ are affected by these diseases. What amazed me is this work spanned over 140 countries. Truly an impressive feat for a small organization based out of Geneva, Switzerland.
IBM has started the Watson evolution with key tertiary cancer hospitals, like Memorial Sloan Kettering (NY), Mayo Clinic (MN) and MD Anderson (TX), and with genetic initiatives, like research with the NY Genome Center on Glioblastoma Multiforme (Susie’s type of brain cancer).
I hope Watson’s innovations for fighting oncology can be applied around the world and across many types of cancers. In addition, I also hope the genomic research will be applied to non-cancerous tumors, like Neurofibromatosis Type II (NF2) that affects my nephew Raphael. While these tumors are not initially considered cancerous, they are debilitating and affect quality of life. In just a year, my nephew has gone from three tumors to six. He’s blind in one eye and has challenges speaking/ swallowing. It is estimated that 100,000 Americans are affected by this genetic disease.
For now, I look upon this adventure with Watson as my first step in making sixteen years of dreams come true. I sincerely look forward to my future walk to helping Healthcare and Life Science professionals make cancer history.