Titles and Affiliations

Chair, Department of Medical Physics

Enid A. Haupt Endowed Chair in Medical Physics

Research area

Developing new mathematical tools to interpret and understand large sets of data in order to gain a deeper understanding of cancer.


Mathematical approaches can be used gain insight into how complex, interacting systems drive cancer, how cancer affects a patient, and how treatments affect cancer. As part of the Mathematical Oncology Initiative, Drs. Deasy and Tannenbaum have assembled a team of mathematicians, biologists, oncologists, and other scientists to develop mathematical models and tools that can be used interpret many kinds of data. These tools can help us gain a deeper understanding of the overall picture of cancer, including areas such as disease evolution, treatment response, identifying subtypes, patient risk of toxicity, and more. Their work will contribute to the advancement of precision medicine in cancer.

Progress Thus Far

Drs. Deasy and Tannenbaum have successfully developed and applied advanced mathematical methods to complex datasets and made significant progress in addressing questions in several areas of cancer biology and treatment. They have described the interactions between hundreds of genes to study the impact of genetic alterations that occur during cancer evolution. In cases of ovarian cancer where these gene networks were perturbed, the disease tended to be the most lethal. The team was also able to use machine learning techniques to analyze features of cancer cells from the data available in the Genomics of Drug Sensitivity in Cancer database and demonstrated that it is possible to predict, for a specific cancer, how effective a certain cancer drug is likely to be. 

What's next

In the coming year, the team will continue to apply their mathematical tools developed thus far to myriad areas of cancer research, including refining cancer subtypes, predicting treatment response, and identifying genes that interact to promote cancer progression.


Dr. Joseph O. Deasy is Chair of the Department of Medical Physics, and holder of the Enid A. Haupt Endowed Chair in Medical Physics, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York.

Dr. Deasy is an attending physicist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK).  He received his PhD in Physics from the University of Kentucky in 1992. Thereafter he completed a NIH-funded post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with mentors Rock Mackie and Jack Fowler. Before arriving at MSK in 2010, Dr. Deasy spent 11 years in the Department of Radiation Oncology, Washington University in St. Louis, first in the physics division under the direction of James Purdy, and later as the first Director of the Division of Bioinformatics and Outcomes Research. Dr. Deasy is the co-author of about 140 peer-reviewed publications and has been the principal investigator of several NIH grants. Dr. Deasy’s current interests are in applying mathematical modeling and machine learning to the analysis of imaging, genomic, and treatment datasets in order to understand the relationship between treatment, patient, and disease characteristics and the probability of disease progression and treatment response.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Simons Foundation Award

Areas of Focus