Skip to main content

Aik Choon Tan Named Senior Director of Data Science

Read Time: 3 minutes

Aik Choon Tan standing, folding his arms

Aik Choon Tan, PhD, has been appointed senior director of data science at Huntsman Cancer Institute, professor at the University of Utah (U of U) department of Oncological Sciences, member of the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute, and Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Endowed Chair in Cancer Data Science. He will also serve as a member of the research executive committee and research leadership council within the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Huntsman Cancer Institute. Tan will begin Oct 1, 2022.

A cancer translational bioinformatics and cancer systems biology researcher, Tan’s research focuses computational and statistical learning methods in overcoming treatment resistant barriers in cancer. He is most interested in research that goes from the lab to bedside, providing data-driven precision oncology for patients. With grants from the National Institutes of Health, and Florida Biomedical Research Program, Tan has focused his research on understanding tumor microenvironment such that effective drug combinations could be delivered to patients based on their individual genomic profiles. He has published more than 200 articles.

"Dr. Tan will bring tremendous data science and leadership expertise to this new role, as well as a strong talent for building connections and envisioning impactful applications of data science", says Neli Ulrich, PhD, executive director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Huntsman Cancer Institute and professor of population health sciences at the U of U. "We are delighted that he will join the Huntsman Cancer Institute and the U of U and I have no doubt that he will advance our cancer-free frontier through innovation and collaboration."

Manish Parashar, PhD, director of the U of U Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute says, "Data science has been identified as a key area of our strategic growth. Dr. Tan brings extensive experiences and expertise and will have a tremendous impact on our innovative new cluster in computational oncology, which encompasses multiple faculty recruits."

Tan previously served as vice chair of the Department Biostatistics and Bioinformatics at Moffitt Cancer in Tampa, Florida.

"I feel honored and humbled to be joining an exceptional cancer center to implement cancer data science ideas and put them into real practice," Tan says. "I look forward to working with the existing teams to leverage their expertise and recruit new faculty in conjunction with other departments and institutions on campus to advance computational oncology research in Utah. I hope we can move some of these discoveries to develop new, more effective ways to prevent cancer and treat patients."

Tan says the inspiration for his work comes from a four-year-old girl he met 17 years ago who was dying of cancer. His pastor had asked him to translate so he could communicate with her family. Tan wished there was more he could do to help this child, who touched his heart. "There’s a disconnect between basic researchers or computational researchers. I want to work as the "connector" to provide seamless integration of computational and statistical methods in experimental and clinical research so we can help more patients like her."

Tan received his Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Technology Malaysia, and earned his PhD from the University of Glasgow in computer science and bioinformatics. He received post-doctoral fellowships at Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering and School of Medicine.

Tan is the first to hold this new leadership position.

Media Contact

Heather Simonsen
Public Relations
Huntsman Cancer Institute
Email Us
801 581-3194

About Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah

Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah (the U) is the National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center for Utah, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming. With a legacy of innovative cancer research, groundbreaking discoveries, and world-class patient care, we are transforming the way cancer is understood, prevented, diagnosed, treated, and survived. Huntsman Cancer Institute focuses on delivering a cancer-free frontier to all communities in the area we serve. We have more than 300 open clinical trials and 250 research teams studying cancer at any given time. More genes for inherited cancers have been discovered at Huntsman Cancer Institute than at any other cancer center. Our scientists are world-renowned for understanding how cancer begins and using that knowledge to develop innovative approaches to treat each patient’s unique disease. Huntsman Cancer Institute was founded by Jon M. and Karen Huntsman.

Resources for Media

Cancer touches all of us.