Tanya Gillis: Personalized Medicine

Project Description:

With the number of disease causing associations being discovered, we can measure the risk of an individual having the disease. How do we do this? What assumptions do we need to make? When will this be useful?

Consider 2 disease causing mutations, each increasing the risk by 20%. Assume the disease has prevalence of 5%. What assumptions do we need to make regarding how they interact to measure the
risk of an individual that has both? Does an individual with both mutations have enough risk to make it worth it to test?

  • Easy: Compute risks for multiple disease mutations assuming independence.
  • Medium: Estimate the variance of the risk. Figure out when it is worth measuring.

About Me:

Hi! My name is Tanya Gillis, and I am a 3rd year computer science major. I was born and raised in sunny San Diego, California, and like to surf. After graduation I plan to work in the industry for a few years and then may consider getting an MBA.


My goal for the end of the quarter is to complete the easy portion and begin on the medium version of this project. I hope to become much more familiar with genetics and statistics, as I have not been exposed to much of these topics. I hope to learn more about bioinformatics and the opportunities available in that field.

Weekly Schedule:

Week 4: Created wiki and picked project.
Week 5: Perform background research and start answering questions.
Week 6: Answer more questions, pick diseases to start & attain data.
Week 7: Answer questions on diseases, finish EASY case.
Week 8: Start MEDIUM case research.
Week 9: Finish up medium work.
Week 10: Finalize & organize project, make presentable.

Weekly Updates:

Week 5:
Weekly Progress: Researched, read through questions. Didn't get time to do very much because of a busy week.

Plan for Next Week: research diseases, how personalized medicine works and is done.

Weekly Grade: A, it was a good start to the project, and I learned a lot about personalized medicine, risk, and hwo to measure such risk.

Problems That Arose: None really, I mostly just researched the topic and read over the description of the project given in the slides for class.

Problems Solved: No problems to report, just went about my project on schedule.

Week 6:

Weekly Progress: I further researched diseases to carry out the study on, including diabetes, heart disease, etc.

Plan for Next Week: I will pick the diseases and answer the questions given in the slides, do most of the work for the easy project.

Weekly Grade: B-, I need to spend more time completing the bulk of the project. I will do this next week.

Problems That Arose: A lack of time to complete the required task, I will overcome this next week.

Problems Solved: I found several good sources on the internet to help analyze the data and background research.

Week 7:

Weekly Progress: I started drafting my presentation, including background information about personalized medicine: what it is and what it is for, and the problem we are trying to solve with it.

Plan for Next Week: I will type up the answers to all of the questions and come up with the equations to use, to plug actual data in with.

Weekly Grade: B+, I spent a significant amount of time on the project but need to get further along.

Problems That Arose: Researching and running into wrong information.

Problems Solved: I found several good sources on the internet to help analyze the data and background research.

Week 8:

Weekly Progress: I finished the background information slides for the presentation (so approximately the first 1/3 of the final presentation).

Plan for Next Week: I need more clarification on the project on a whole, especially with measuring the risk and calculating the probabilities for getting the disease, etc. I will be asking the professor for more help on this portion.

Weekly Grade: A, I finished a significant portion of the prooject and am still on schedule for finishing in the time allotted, as long as I spend a significant portion of time on this next week.

Problems That Arose: Vague understanding of the technicalities of the project and the mathematical portions.

Problems Solved: I finished the parts of the project I could without further clarification and help from the professor. I will be asking for more help from the professor next week in order to finish the project.

Week 9 (+ Weekend before Week 10):

Weekly Progress: I finished the entire project. I asked the professor for further clarification and he cleared it up very well. I spent many many hours working out the probabilities and finishing the slides, as well as coming up with examples of clearing the threshold to test and measure individuals for risk, which I did not know about before.

Plan for Next Week: Presenting the project to the class on Monday!

Weekly Grade: A, I finished the project and spent a long amount of time doing this thoroughly and to the best of my ability. I mastered the material and asked questions on whatever I did not fully understand. This included both abstract concepts and mathematical work.

Problems That Arose: Understanding the material enough to explain it to the class.

Problems Solved: I spent many hours to make sure that I fully understood the material and topics, kept the slides interesting and thorough, and was very organized in the way I presented the material. I feel that although much of this project was last minute due to my busy class schedule, I put in the time required (and even moreso) to complete the project and give my presentation to the best of my ability.

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