Titles and Affiliations

Professor of Medicine and Engineering
University of Southern California
Founding Director and CEO
Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine
Ellison Institute Research Foundation
Los Angeles, California

Research area

Using machine learning to analyze tissue structure in order to predict outcomes and guide treatment decisions for patients with breast cancer.


Data sharing and biobanks of patient specimens are playing increasingly important roles in the research, diagnosis, and treatment of cancers. These samples, however, have not been standardized or annotated and relevant data elements can change over time. Dr. Agus is utilizing machine learning to connect the dots between clinical factors and the structure and organization of the cancer for more meaningful and precise diagnoses. 

Progress thus far

In Dr. Agus’ previous BCRF-supported work, he explored the possibility extracting relevant clinical information of using machine learning to predict the status of certain disease biomarkers as well as nodal status from images of primary biopsies. He and his team successfully demonstrated the value of this approach and built a scalable computational pipeline to perform these types of analyses. Dr. Agus has recently expanded this approach by reconstructing the three-dimensional architecture of the tumor. 

What's next

Dr. Agus aims to develop a machine learning algorithm to identify issue architectures that correlate to clinical observations for both two- and three-dimensional tissue samples. He then will validate the power of the algorithms to be clinically informative by comparing clinical outcome predictions to clinical records. These advancements could add tremendous utility to existing tissue collections to inform future research and treatments.


David Agus is professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California, where he is the founding CEO of USC’s Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine. Dr. Agus leads a multidisciplinary team of researchers dedicated to the development and use of technologies to guide doctors in making health-care decisions tailored to individual needs, and directs a National Cancer Institute Physical Sciences in Oncology Center at USC.  He is a medical oncologist and an international leader in new technologies and approaches for personalized healthcare. He serves as a CBS News contributor. Dr. Agus’ first book, The End of Illness, was published in 2012 and is a New York Times #1 and international best seller, and subject of a PBS special. His second book, New York Times best-selling A Short Guide to a Long Life, was published January 2014, and his newest book The Lucky Years: How to thrive in the brave new world of health, also a New York Times bestseller was published in 2016.  He is a 2017 recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The AutoNation DRV PNK Award