I trained in Mathematics, not Physics, so I tend to despair when I see physicists presenting their results and focusing on power laws. I used to think, “So what?” Unless you link this data point to some greater insight about the underlying process, “Why should I care?” But I’ve been revising my perspective recently.Continue reading “The Power of Power Laws and Impact”
Last week I was invited to chair the panel discussion at the Digital Health Forum of the Berlin Institute of Health. The keynote was a joint presentation by Michelle Livne, the CTO of recently founded ai4health, and Kerstin Ritter, a junior professor at Charité Berlin.
Nate Silver is most famous in the political world for having correctly predicted the results, on a state-by-state level, of the US presidential election in 2008. That’s back when Obama was first elected president. It’s hard to imagine now, but the idea that Obama would win was only given an outside chance by most commentators at the time.
I find it hard to refer to Nate as anything other than Nate since I’ve been listening to the FiveThirtyEight podcast for so long. We don’t know one another, but he’s become a colleague and mentor who lives inside of my head. The reason he is so important to me is because he has become one of my strongest contemporary influences. His success has given me a roadmap for how to lead my life as a mathematical modeller.
I have been developing a series of articles on Mathematics and Biology (article 1, article 2, more to follow). A common theme in these articles is how a mathematically trained individual finds their place in the modern work environment. We want to pursue our art, we also have professional standards and a lot to contribute, but somehow the connection between our skills and the needs of others are missing. By following Nate’s work, I have at least one strong role model who I can attempt to model. Continue reading “Influences: Nate Silver”
I am a really lucky guy. I am deeply talented. I had access to computer and internet technology from the 1980’s. And people around me have always given me the space to do projects that I am passionate about.
Recently I was forced to confront myself with the realisation that, throughout my life, I have always worked on exactly the projects that I most wanted to work on. Even in school, I just didn’t go to class if I didn’t want to. I learned ten times as much at home, about much more interesting topics, and still managed to ace the exams.
As part of this self-confrontation, I learned that i) this is entirely selfish behaviour on my part, ii) it’s not such a surprise that I have often lacked a mentor at key points in my career.
I started working at a new job last week. I am now the Head of Data Science at Fosanis GmbH. We’re a startup in Berlin, two years old, and we provide support services for cancer patients. My task is to personalise the approach.
Think personalised medicine, without the medicine. The content we provide has been professionally curated and has been shown to be beneficial to cancer patients. If you speak German, you can try out the content online right now. We will be launching an App-based implementation in the new year.
I want to then take this to the next level. Patients will be treated as a combination of their statistical attributes and their individual trajectories through the interface. From a technological point-of-view, we will be aping many of the approaches pioneered by Facebook. However, we will try to maximise a much trickier to define Quality of Life metric, rather than page refreshes or time spent on the Wall.
This is a really exciting project. I have been looking for a while to find a project where I can apply behavioural modelling approaches to healthcare goals. In a world of rapidly expanding autoimmune diseases I see this ultimately as the new treatment paradigm. What is especially nice is that, in the space in which we are operating there are no real conflicts of interest. I hope that I don’t look back on that statement as hopelessly naive. My impression is that most people in oncology are really trying to make patients’ lives better.
We will be hiring in the first couple of months of 2019, so if you know any talented biological modellers who might be interested, please tell them to email me their CV.
Earning a little money on the side, as a specialist consultant, is one of the hardest things I’ve done in Germany. I’m not talking about the work itself. I enjoy immensely using my skills and seeing a quick return in my impact on projects. I’m talking about the administrative overhead.
German law is predicated on you knowing what you are going to do before you do it. Continue reading “Doing consultancy work in Germany”
my first startup. It’s done, we’ve shut it down.
I joined Entrepreneur First‘s initial Berlin cohort in April (2018). Through the process, I very quickly met my cofounder and founded Simmunology Limited. We followed the checkpoints laid down by Entrepreneur First (EF), through founding the company, right up to receiving an initial investment of UK£80,000 in return for 10% of the company. Then, at the end of the kick-off meeting, I told them I wanted to shut it down… Continue reading “Simmunology was…”
Writing is the art of removing.
Last month I wrote about the historical world-views of mathematicians and biologists. These articles are part of a planned four part series, in an attempt to first understand and then improve the working relationship between these two key scientific disciplines. This is all a work in progress, so at the end, I will try to take the key learnings from each of the articles and distill them into a single composed article.
This month, I want to discuss the practical considerations why mathematics and biology still don’t work so well together.