When Jake Hogan first set foot on the Brigham Young University campus in the fall of 2016, he knew right where he wanted to focus his studies—cancer research. Hogan was intimately familiar with the disease after he’d seen both his grandfather and his younger brother each battle brain tumors.
Now, four years later, Hogan is set to graduate from BYU with a degree in bioinformatics and ready to change the world by using computers to improve cancer research.
“The end goal is to lead or be a part of an interdisciplinary lab that uses machine learning and computational techniques to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment,” Hogan said. “Even though my brother’s brain tumor couldn’t be removed, doctors were still able to reroute the spinal fluid around the tumor, and because of that, he was able to live for 17 years. I want to create a lab where mathematicians and computer scientists can work together to identify more treatments like this and improve the standard of care for future cancer patients like my brother.”
Hogan developed a love for research and learning before studying at BYU, and when deciding on a major, he wanted a degree that would overlap the pre-med curriculum but also allow for opportunities to do research. Bioinformatics was the perfect fit.
“I knew that however I ended up getting there, BYU would be a good springboard for further education and my career,” he said.
Hogan has also seized off-campus opportunities to complement his classroom learning. He built a 3D model of tumor growth while interning at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida. Hogan also spent two summers researching machine learning with a neurologist at Harvard Medical School to improve disease diagnoses.
“I’m really interested in exploring how machine learning and computational methods can be directly applied to help patients,” Hogan said. “I look forward to the day when I can speak with a patient and understand what they are going through and then turn around and go into the lab to work with scientists to ensure that we are giving patients the best standard of care possible.”
When BYU announced the transition to remote instruction as a result of coronavirus, Hogan returned home to Kaysville, Utah. Now realizing that he won’t be returning to campus anytime soon feels bittersweet, but Hogan said he looks back on his time at BYU with gratitude and looks forward to the future with excitement.
Hogan will continue to evaluate his options for medical school and will enroll in a program starting this fall.