An interview with Brian Chung about his Good Leaver experience
Project Using AI to detect mutations in cancer images
Institute European BioInformatics Institute
Project Sponsor Dr. Moritz Gerstung
Good Leaver Brian Chung
Can you provide a quick summary of your own background?
I studied Electrical Engineering in Graduate School and had no thoughts of finance on my mind after graduating but was introduced to a local hedge fund in Chicago that was looking for people so I gave it a try and it was a blast. Very competitive, very interesting and you were always learning every day. So, I worked in a few firms within finance and then, whilst on garden leave, I got an email about Good Leaver.
What was it about Good Leaver that attracted you?
I think for myself it was a combination of interesting projects and the altruistic element of the projects. You’re doing work for a good cause.
What was the process like to become a Good Leaver?
I sent my resume through the Good Leaver website and got a quick response. We had a quick call to gauge what would be interesting for me and good for the project sponsors and found a couple of interesting projects. Simon then put me in contact with Dr. Gerstung at the EBI who was running the cancer project. It was pretty straightforward.
Can you give us an overview of the project?
Dr. Gerstung’s group published a paper where they used neural networks to identify different cancer types and whether there’s a tumour or not. The next step was to use one of the layers in the trained neural network to determine other things about those cancers. For instance, what are some of the mutations and drivers that are causing those cancers. So, it’s a two-step process, in that first you try to predict what type of cancer it is and then once you have that network trained you try to figure out different associations and different mutations about that process. My project was seeing if we can skip that middle step of trying to predict the cancers and can we try to predict the mutations or different associations directly from the histopathology slides?
Did you have any Bioinformatics experience?
I had no bioinformatics experience at all so came in with a blank slate. Dr. Gerstung invited me to join their group slack so I got to chat with his group members, ask questions, just to figure out why is this not working ? or why is it doing that? to understand the cancers and associations better. He also invited me to their group meeting and they just get to talk about what they’re working on which I thought was really cool.
How much time did you have to commit?
One of the positive aspects about this project was that I was able to work part-time due to some other obligations. Some weeks I put in ten hours and some weeks more than twenty. It was pretty open in terms of the research schedule.
Did you require any special infrastructure?
Dr. Gerstung’s group provided me all the tools I needed. I started with some of their clusters and then more recently we started trying Google Cloud which was pretty interesting.
Would you recommend becoming a Good Leaver?
Absolutely, I would definitely recommend Good Leaver for any other quants or engineers who happen to be on their non-competes. I think it’s for a good cause and it’s also super interesting to be able to do research in other areas and fields and get a different perspective.