People in profile: Derek Chiu

Meet Derek—Analyzing trends for better patient outcomes.

Q: What is your role in health research?
I am a statistical analyst with OVCARE, BC’s Ovarian Cancer Research team.  

Q: What is your research area of interest, and what led you to that interest?
My research interests lie primarily in how statistical and machine learning can help improve patient outcomes and survivorship. I was always interested in numbers and statistics, and for my graduate studies I focussed my attention on biological applications.

Q: What’s the best part about your research job?
I enjoy creating project deliverables, whether they are results for a manuscript or an interactive product that collaborators and other researchers can use in their clinical work. I also enjoy having the flexibility to find best practices that continuously improve my efficiency in different aspects of work.

Q: What does your average day at work look like?
A typical day usually involves juggling multiple project tasks, and generating reports with tables, figures, and statistical interpretations. Sometimes, the data I receive also requires managing and processing before it is ready to analyze. The statistical reports aim to summarize project objectives and portions may be used in future publications.

Q: What is one of the biggest accomplishments of your research career?
I developed an application that clinicians could use to predict subtypes of high-grade serious ovarian cancer using NanoString nCounter expression counts. It was rewarding to hear that our multi-institutional collaborators across the world found the app user-friendly and were able to advise clinical decisions in their own patient samples.

Q: How do you unwind at the end of the day?
Running, hiking and basketball are my favourite outdoor activities. I also like to unwind from the daily grind by playing board games and watching escapist films.

Q: What would you do if you weren’t a researcher? 
I can see myself as a university instructor or lecturer. I really enjoyed my time as a teaching assistant explaining concepts to others.

Q: Who motivates you?
 My peers motivate me as they engage their passions and achieve their goals. I’m constantly learning how to improve my own work ethic and discover beneficial habits I can incorporate into my own life.

Q: What was your first job?
My first job was as at a car rental agency washing and cleaning cars. It really helped me improve my driving skills at a young age!

Q: What’s your favourite movie? 
I’d have to say that my favourite movie(s) are the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s simply a consummate experience that elicits all kinds of emotions.

Q: What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t let fear of how other people perceive you stop you from trying new things or committing to something. Opportunities come and go, take advantage of all of them.

Derek Chiu completed a master of science in statistics at the University of British Columbia. He works closely with OVCARE principal investigator Dr. Aline Talhouk at the BC Cancer Research Centre, analyzing data to find patterns that improve outcomes for ovarian cancer patients.


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