How To Beat Cancer


January 22, 2014


Marty Tenenbaum


Cancer Commons


Every year 1.6 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer and nearly half of those cases are considered incurable. But many of those “incurable” cases may be beatable by exploiting biological features unique to each individual’s cancer. I will talk about a convergence of recent developments in genomics, big data informatics, social networks, and personalized medicine that is transforming the landscape of cancer research and treatment. Instead of aiming our efforts toward curing “cancer” in the abstract, and often failing, we are now on the threshold of being able to give each individual the knowledge, resources, and tools needed to successfully treat the one disease that matters most to them.

In this new paradigm, cancer is managed as a chronic disease using an evolving cocktail of targeted- and immunotherapies individualized for each patient, much like HIV. Every treatment event is considered as a probe that simultaneously treats the patient and provides an opportunity to validate and refine the models on which the treatment decisions are based. I will discuss the challenges and opportunities of this personalized approach to oncology from an informatics perspective, including providing patients and their physicians with up-to-the-moment treatment recommendations, capturing the results of each patient encounter, rapidly extrapolating them to other patients, and coordinating all patient encounters to efficiently search the space of therapeutic options.


Marty Tenenbaum

Marty Tenenbaum is a renowned computer scientist, Internet entrepreneur and cancer survivor. He founded Cancer Commons and CollabRx (NASD: CRLX) to help each cancer patient obtain the best possible outcome. He was an Internet commerce pioneer, having founded or co-founded Enterprise Integration Technologies (1990, acquired by VeriFone), CommerceNet (1994), Veo Systems (1996, acquired by Commerce One), and Webify Solutions (2002, acquired by to IBM). He also served as an officer and Director of Medstory (acquired by Microsoft).

Dr. Tenenbaum is a fellow and former board member of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, and a former consulting professor of Computer Science at Stanford. He currently serves on the boards of Efficient Finance, Patients Like Me, and the Public Library of Science (PLoS). He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from MIT, and a Ph.D. from Stanford.

Cancer Commons is a non-profit open science initiative, where cancer patients are treated in accord with the latest knowledge, and that knowledge is continually updated based on each patient’s response. Learn more at