SDSM& T News
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2002
Contact: Steve Buchholz, Public Information Manager, 394- 6082
Be Aware Of Math In April
April means new beginnings, blooming flowers, warm sunshine, and math. April is national Mathematics Awareness Month, and a time to highlight the crucial place math has in our lives.
" Math plays an important role in our society. Having a Mathematics Awareness Month is a great way to recognize the impact and prevalence of math," South Dakota School of Mines and Technology's Dr. Kyle Riley said. Riley is an assistant professor in Tech's Mathematics and Computer Science Department. Tech offers a bachelor's degree in mathematics, and math is a big part of all majors at Tech.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “ Mathematics and the Genome.” Activities around the country will focus on the role of math in the future of medicine.
Medical researchers will need to know more math in the coming decades than they do now. Researchers hope for an era of individualized medicine, when your doctor will have your DNA sequence available on a computer. If you are sick, the doctor will use technology to diagnose the problem and to predict how you are likely to respond to available treatments.
Math will be an integral part of that equation. Researchers use numerical analysis, statistics, and modeling to translate genetic information into useful data. For example, the signature of a tumor may include 15,000 numbers. Researchers would look for whether sampled numbers fall into clusters of tumors that are close to each other because tumor clusters sometimes react similarly under treatment. Once a doctor finds those clusters, she would use statistical techniques to assign a given tumor to a group.
It is still an open mathematical problem as to what is the best way to find clusters, but
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current methods are good enough to detect clusters in many situations.
This opens the door to a totally new way for oncologists to diagnose tumors, and to make what is often life- or- death decisions about what treatment to use. New experiments generate mountains of data, and this poses an opportunity and a challenge ����� how do we analyze this data and make the most of it?
People who know both molecular biology and mathematics are currently in great demand to work in universities, medical research, and biotech startup companies. If the dream of individualized medicine is realized, those who work as health care providers will need to be more sophisticated about mathematics and statistics, and those who do medical research will need to know even more.
Other benefits of the genome project will include advances in agriculture and livestock production, pharmaceutical industries, forensics, energy technologies, and environmental resources.
Learn more about Mathematics Awareness Month at www. mathforum. org/ mam/ 02/.
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Devereaux Library. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.