Schussels provide pivotal funds for vital data analysis

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Source: Dana Farber Impact, Published: Fall 2018

Since Sandi Schussel’s successful treatment at Dana-Farber for a rare T-cell lymphoma in 2015, she and her husband, George, have become active supporters of cancer research. They have made generous gifts supporting DanaFarber research into breakthrough cures for lymphomas, and in August they appeared with Sandi’s oncologist, Matthew Davids, MD, MMSc, on the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon presented by Arbella Insurance Foundation to tell her story of success and encourage listeners to give. Motivated by George’s professional expertise in database technology, the couple wondered whether gene sequencing, the resulting big data, and artificial intelligence could further progress in the conquering of cancer. “Because it’s now much more common for patients to get their tumors sequenced,” explained Dana-Farber’s David Weinstock, MD, “it’s important to look at a large set of samples and understand the frequency with which we find something that actually changes the treatment.” Sandi and George’s most recent gift of $100,000 is helping Weinstock and his colleagues analyze a large set of gene sequencing samples, collaborating with investigators from multiple institutions to gain new insights into which gene abnormalities are important and targetable. “The Schussels provided seed money at a pivotal time,” said Weinstock. “Sandi and I were both trained in the scientific method and have faith that understanding the human genome and its relationship to cancer will provide an important new boost to cancer therapies, thereby benefiting all of mankind,” said George. ■

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