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Real-World Problems Being Solved By Mathematicians

More Effective Surgery and Chemotherapy

Real-World Problem

  • How should Hydrocephalus (“Water on the Brain”) be treated to minimize the need for repeated brain surgery?
  • How should chemotherapy treatments and resting periods be spaced in order to best target cancer cells without harming healthy cells?
Water on the Brain

Being Solved by Mathematicians

Brain surgeons treat Hydrocephalus or “Water on the Brain” by installing a drainage tube in the brain to drain excess fluid. Over time, the brain changes shape, making the drainage tube less effective. Patients typically require repeated brain surgeries. What is the best location for the tube to minimize the need for repeated surgery?

When cancer patients are given aggressive chemotherapy sessions, their healthy cells are also affected. The sequence of drugs and resting periods can be fine-tuned to focus the effect specifically onto the cancer cells

Mathematicians are good at finding patterns, making predictions and recognizing best solutions to problems. Patterns can be found in the brain MRIs of patients or in the outcomes of chemotherapy drug protocols. Mathematical medicine is a new field of study where mathematicians apply traditional mathematical techniques to offer new insight to doctors.

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