Posts Tagged With: Charity

A Day in the Life of a Cancer Programmer

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research CenterI consider myself very lucky to have the privilege to work at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which we affectionately call Fred Hutch. I manage a small team of programmers in creating custom solutions to support the world-renowned research that is happening here.

In this post, I thought I’d give you an idea of what research projects I am personally involved with day to day, either in a programming/configuration/orchestration/maintenance role or in a management role.

Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that not all of the work we do at Fred Hutch is cancer related. Fred Hutch scientists also do research in infectious diseases, diseases of the immune system, and a few other disorders. Still, the bulk of the science being done here is cancer related.

So here are some of the projects I am currently working on…

1. My group at Fred Hutch serves as the clinical coordination and data management center for a multi-site study of an immune system disorder called Sjogren’s Syndrome. The goal of this study is to develop a panel of biomarkers to diagnose this disorder. We are responsible for the collection, quality control, and storage of clinical and laboratory data for this clinical trial. For this project, we use a electronic data capture system called REDCap, a laboratory system named LabKey, SAS, a few custom-built .NET programs to tie it all together, and SQL Server.

Image_782. I lead the programming team supporting a pair of trials looking at the accuracy of pathologists when diagnosing breast cancer and melanoma. Initial results of the breast cancer study made news when a controversial paper describing the results was recently published in JAMA. The system is built using ASP.NET MVC with an electronic slide viewer built using Silverlight.

vials-rack-192652743. I created and maintain a specimen repository that I first wrote using ASP.NET about 10 years ago. This system is used to track specimens– little vials of blood and tissue that are collected from study subjects and stored in super-cold freezers–for five different repositories, including repositories for leukemia and a rare disease known as Shwackman-Diamond syndrome.

4. My team maintains another ASP.NET-based system that tracks the logistics of running hundreds of clinical trials in AIDS treatment and prevention. This system also communicates to our funding agency at the National Institutes of Health on a daily basis using a web service client.

5. My team recently launched a new study that is looking at the effects of eating frequency on health. We helped build the data collection system (using REDCap) and a .NET console program that texts participants reminders to complete their daily food intake diaries.

6. We are working to build a website for a new study with pilot funding to improve the reliability of self testing for Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections in bone marrow transplant recipients. CMV is particularly dangerous in these patients.

Cholera7. I am helping to manage the data collection of a study that is attempting to extract information about cholera outbreaks in Africa using as the source data reports extracted from a public reporting system called ProMED. The goal of the study is to build models to better understand how this devastating disease spreads.

8. We manage the data collection for innovative research study to use acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to coach smokers over the telephone to quit smoking. Prior studies have shown ACT to be a promising technique to help smokers and others with addictions to stop these destructive behaviors.

9. I recently completed an online implementation of a scoring algorithm for use by oncologists who are trying to predict patient survival from hematopoietic stem cell transplants for leukemia and myeloma. The system was built using ASP.NET MVC and jQuery.

10. I lead a team that maintains a 8-year old custom-developed CATI (computer assisted telephone interviewing) program for our telephone interviewer team.

That covers most of the systems that occupy my time of late.The technology is not always bleeding edge but, in general, we try to stay current and forward thinking.

It’s a challenging job at times, especially when trying to juggle dozens of clients who are almost always on a short schedule with a even shorter budget. But boy, is it rewarding. I truly love my job and I hope you enjoyed reading a bit about it.

Obliteride_Logo_Horizontal_4CP_Regv2And finally (you knew there was a tie in), my wife Suzanna and I are riding our bikes 50 miles on August 9th to raise money for the wonderful and truly life-saving research being done at Fred Hutch. Won’t you please consider supporting the amazing work we are doing here by donating to my ride? Thank you.

donatenow1.jpg

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Categories: Charity, Obliteride | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Obliteride

Me (in the middle) at the StartTwo weeks ago on Saturday, I got up at 5:30 am after a night of not-so-restful sleep. (We had thunder and lightning much of the night and I was a little anxious about the ride.) Unfortunately for Suzanna, she had to wake up two hours earlier since she was on the first volunteer Saturday shift for the event.

Even though I woke up at 5:30 and the ride didn’t start until a little before 8:00, I managed to fritter the time away so that when I finally left I had to Suzanna at the Friday Night Pre-Partyride like a mad-man to the start. And instead of taking the longer, flatter route, I rode the 5+ miles straight over the NE 65th Street hill to the start at Magnuson Park.

When I arrived, Suzanna was there at the start in her orange volunteer shirt. There were four different routes and we were each release in waves. First, the 180 mile riders, then the 100, then my group, the 50 mile riders, and after we were gone, the 25 milers.

 

The Route

With all due respect to the event organizers – they did a fantastic job in so many ways – whoever designed the routes must be a sadist. Check out the elevation chart: one huge hill after the next.

Hills, Hills, and more Hills

Now I understand that Seattle is hilly but I’ve lived and run and ridden all over this area during the past 30 years.That said, there are ways to avoid the hills and not to pound hills them into the participants of a ride.

Nice Caribbean Band at a Rest StopOh, and while I am mentioning it, one other issue was the bad signage. The course signage consisted of the occasional “Course” sign on a telephone pole and four different colored arrows on the pavement: one color for 25, another for 50 (blue), and two other colors for the 100 and 180 mile routes.

Suffice it to say, it was really easy to miss the arrows. I know that I and a number of other 50-milers managed to miss at least one turn and ended Relaxing after the ridethe race with only 41 miles on the bike odometer (and we really wanted to ride 50). I spoke with a number of other people riding various routes and many rode either too many miles or too few because of missed or extra turns in the route.

On the other hand, this is only the first year for the event; I’m sure they have heard their fair share of complaints about the hills and signage issues, and likely make things better next year.

 

The Money Raised for Cancer Research

raisedDespite the hilly course and the other minor issues, It was an amazing event. After all, the point of the whole thing was to raise money for cancer research and thanks to my sponsors, we managed to raise over $3,100 (not including the matching corporate donations that should be coming in Getting a massage after the ridesoon).

All totaled, the event has raised 1.5 million dollars for the live-saving research that happens at the place where I work: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. So far, that is. Money will continue to come in from late donations, matching donations, and riders who hadn’t met their minimum donation amount by race day (they have until October 1).

Aside: The Seattle Times wrote a nice article on the race. I’m even depicted in the starting line crowd in the second of two photos. For some reason, I wasn’t smiling at the moment the shutter went off. But I was happy inside!

I am so happy I got to be part of the first Obliteride; I plan to ride it again next year. In fact, Suzanna and I area talking about riding it together next year. And we likely will up the mileage and tackle one of the longer routes. But we have a little time to work out the details.

Thanks again everyone for your support!

Categories: Charity, Cycling, Sports | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Ending My Sounds of Silence

LaurelAndHardyHushLike many bloggers out there, I started with a bunch of ideas that I wanted to get out into the blogspace last year, and then got distracted and this blog has suffered.

Let’s see if I can restart this thing and put out something that others may be able to benefit from.

Catching Up

Wedding-87Since I last blogged seriously, a lot has happened. I got married in a wonderfully romantic wedding in Monteriggioni, in Tuscany, Italy to my soul mate, Suzanna, last October. I started to run seriously again and ran a 5K back on New Year’s Day of this year. I also joined a running group at the beginning of the year and set my sights a little higher: first signing up for the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon and then the Eugene Marathon, which was held April 28th.

Running for Boston

I am happy to report here, that running has gone spectacularly well for me this year. Not only did Eugene go well, but I managed to qualify for the first time in my life for the Boston Marathon, which has been a life dream, and which I finally accomplished in my 8th marathon finish with a time of 3:39:22. Not bad for an old dude.

TrackWorkoutApril2013Cropped-2013-2Unfortunately, the qualifying time margin for me is only 38 seconds, which isn’t a lot with the renewed interest in Boston after the horrific bombing this year. Thus, I have decided to run another marathon on September 15, the Tunnel Lite Marathon. It’s a very fast course so I am hoping to clock a finish time of more around 3:30 which would give me extra cushion in registering for Boston 2013.

Cycling for Cancer Research

PaulOnBikeNewOrleansOh, and a couple of days ago, I registered to ride in a cancer fund-raiser bike ride, the Obliteride, to raise much-needed research money the world-class cancer research institute where I work: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Expect more blog entries on my Obliteride journey. Meanwhile, if you are so inclined, please consider supporting my effort and the efforts of the scientists at “Fred Hutch” by donating to my Obilteride.

Thanks for reading!

Paul.

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Day of Caring

Today I was part of the United Way of King County Washington’s Day of Caring. Fortunately, my employer, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, like many other local organizations, paid me my salary while I volunteered at a retirement community in the area called Hilltop House.

Hilltop_GroupThe eleven us from FHCRC worked at this wonderful home to 120 seniors. We didn’t do anything too special: we dusted, cleaned carpets, blinds, windows, and bathrooms. Changed light bulbs, turned over mattresses, swept out front and spruced up their gardens and shared areas.

Part of the effort was also to engage with the residents who showed us their appreciation with kind words and big smiles. I was lucky enough to help clean two lovely women’s apartments, both lacking the mobility to bend over, reach high places, or lift heavy objects.

Caroline_Me_KatieIt was nice to be part of an effort that helps to keep senior housing more affordable and within reach of those who need it. Thanks go out to the other members of my team, United Way, Hilltop House, and Fred Hutchinson Research Center.

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Seattle GiveCamp 2012 is Calling All Geeks

I am part of an amazing event that we are holding in October 2012 in the Seattle area: Seattle GiveCamp. I have written about our upcoming event elsewhere. Please take a look at the post and, if you are a techie living or working near Seattle, please consider volunteering. I guarantee it will be worth the effort. While I am currently knee deep in planning this year’s event, I will not be onsite at this year’s Seattle GiveCamp weekend, because I am marrying my soulmate in Tuscany the week before and we will be on our honeymoon at the time.

Categories: Charity | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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