Around Cornell

News directly from Cornell's colleges and centers

Maxwell Fellows to boost data science research in medicine

Data science research in medicine is getting a boost at Cornell through the Professor William Maxwell '56 Fellows, which will financially support assistant research professors, graduate students and postdoctoral students affiliated with the Engineering Innovations in Medicine initiative.

The fellowships were established through a gift by Dev Joneja, Ph.D. ’89, and will help Cornell over the next five years attract and retain 15 to 20 scholars who aim to use artificial intelligence and other advances in data science for applications such as disease detection, drug development, predictive health care, and clinical decision support.

“Dev’s generous gift is foundational, and its timing could not have been better,” said Emmanuel Giannelis, who leads the Engineering Innovations in Medicine initiative, which launched in 2022 as a partnership between Cornell Engineering and Weill Cornell Medicine to advance clinical and translational research and education.

“This gift jumpstarts the initiative’s data-driven pillar,” said Giannelis, who is also the Walter R. Read Professor of Engineering in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. “Specifically, our mission is to pioneer new approaches that will fundamentally change the way biomedical data is acquired, computed and used, and to develop, validate and implement new, data-driven decision-making approaches to advance human health.”

The fellowships give preference to positions based in the School of Operations Research and Information Engineering and appointed through the Center for Data Science for Enterprise and Society. The center was launched in 2019 with the goal of bridging the gap between data science methodology and applications.

David Shmoys, who directs the center and is the Laibe/Acheson Professor of Business Management and Leadership Studies in the School of Operations Research and Information Engineering, said the Maxwell Fellows will create a “vertical infrastructure” in which the respective roles of faculty, postdocs and students are integrated in a way that is beneficial for cross-campus research.

“This approach ensures a cohesive support system not just for assistant research professors but also for graduate students,” Shmoys said, “ultimately boosting the overall effectiveness of the enterprise being conceived.”

The formal structure of the fellowships is what inspired Joneja, chief risk officer at ExodusPoint Capital Management, to support them.

“For a program like Engineering Innovations in Medicine that is just starting off, it’s important to have an effort which is somewhat directed in nature and includes short-term deliverables,” said Joneja, a graduate of the School of Operations Research and Information Engineering. “I wanted to establish something that brings together the medical and the operations research disciplines – two different campuses and different faculty, with graduate researchers, all coming together.”

Joneja said he is particularly interested in how data science can help provide better access to health care in underserved areas, such as through telemedicine and mobile diagnostics, but that the research projects will ultimately be decided by the fellows.

“There are many ways in which medicine has traditionally had a conservative view and the ability to incorporate data in real time will open new horizons,” Shmoys said. “The question of how we're going to learn and use data in doing this is limitless in terms of its potential.”

Syl Kacapyr is associate director of marketing and communications for Cornell Engineering.

Media Contact

Media Relations Office