Paul Boutros, Director, Cancer Data Science

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Paul Boutros, Ph.D., M.B.A., is a renowned data scientist and professor in the departments of human genetics and urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He currently serves as director of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Cancer Data Science program and associate director of cancer informatics at the UCLA Institute for Precision Health, and is a member of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research.

Boutros earned his B.Sc. degree from the University of Waterloo in Chemistry in 2004, and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Toronto, Canada, in Medical Biophysics in 2008. At Toronto, he also earned an executive M.B.A. from the Rothman School of Management. In 2008, Boutros started his independent research career at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research first as a fellow (2008–2010) and then as principal investigator (2010–2018). He moved to California to join the UCLA faculty in 2018.

The research in Boutros’ laboratory lies at the intersection of clinical, molecular and imaging data. He focuses on how these diverse pieces of information can be linked to personalize therapy for cancer patients. By applying  techniques from modern data science strategies, particularly machine-learning, he creates biomarkers to help ensure therapies are selected that maximize cure and minimize morbidities. His work sometimes centers on specific tumor types, particularly prostate and thyroid, but often includes others in conjunction to identify general and tumor-type specific features of cancer. Some of his recent studies focus on how cancers develop differently based on the sex, age or ethnic features of the patient.

Boutros has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers, and in his leadership roles as professor in the departments of human genetics and urology, he is currently working to support personalizing therapy for cancer by developing novel statistical methodologies. He leads the ICGC-TCGA DREAM Somatic Mutation Calling Challenge that is setting global standards for analyzing cancer genomic data, and drives programs in cancer genomics, data science and biomarker translation.

Boutros has received numerous honors for his work as a scientist and researcher, including the Prostate Cancer Canada Rising Star in Prostate Cancer Research award, the Terry Fox New Investigator Award, the University of Waterloo Young Alumni Award and the Early Career Graduate Student Teaching Award. In 2018 he was awarded the Dorval Prize by the Canadian Cancer Society, recognizing the best national early career investigator.