• Bruce Ling, PhD, leads an interdisciplinary team working to develop diagnostic algorithms and improve doctors’ ability to identify and treat conditions like Kawasaki disease and congenital heart disease.
  • Donors Sichao Wang and Jean Lu hope their gift will help Ling and other researchers identify disease and suggest personalized treatments based on a patient’s unique makeup.
 

 

Helping the ‘good guys’: Silicon Valley family sees connections between IT network security and medicine

Megan Alpers
Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sichao Wang’s professional passion is IT security—as he says, “keeping the bad actors out and making sure the good information stays in and is not vulnerable.” 

A senior principal product manager at Cisco Systems with more than two decades of experience in the high tech industry, Wang describes the parallels he sees between IT security industry and medicine: “There are many similarities. Just like we try to take preventive measures to keep good data safe, doctors and researchers want to protect their patients and help them avoid health issues. And when a disease or threat does reach a patient or host, we all work to treat or eradicate the problem.” 

It was Wang’s wife, Jean Lu, a senior engineer at Amazon building the company’s flagship products such as Fire TV, who initially encouraged him to connect with researchers at Stanford to see how they could support groundbreaking research. “This country has helped us succeed as a family, and we are in a position to give back. We are happy to be able to take on our social responsibility to help others.”

Wang, who says he has immense respect for doctors and researchers who seek new ways to treat patients, was immediately drawn to the work of Bruce Ling, PhD. 

A principal investigator at Stanford University School of Medicine and director of the Stanford Translational Medicine Program, Ling leads an interdisciplinary team working to develop diagnostic algorithms and improve doctors’ ability to identify and treat conditions like Kawasaki disease and congenital heart disease. The work of Ling’s team also has implications for a number of other conditions impacting children and adults such as preterm birth, preeclampsia, cancer, systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and more. 

Ling also happens to be an alumnus of Fudan University – the same university Wang attended in China, and the pair bonded over their shared experiences and perspectives.

“Dr. Ling is phenomenal,” Wang says. “He has such an incredible vision and unique way of approaching problems. Where I really connected with his work is in the predictive field. My team at Cisco focuses on predicting the next network attack before it happens, just as Dr. Ling and his research group are identifying the subsets of patients who have higher risk for disease, or may benefit from certain treatments.”

Wang and Lu say they hope their initial gift, which will support Ling’s work on predictive algorithms and the computation of medical data, will help Ling and other researchers identify disease and suggest personalized treatments based on a patient’s unique makeup. And Wang hopes his expertise in technology may one day also support the team’s work. 

“The world is converging—medicine and IT have so much in common today,” says Wang. “I am excited to see how I can give financially as well as through volunteering and sharing my expertise.”

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