• LaBella Associates

Coding for Cancer

What do you get when you combine medicine, linguistics, and video games? With any luck—cures for disease.

Rochester General Hospital’s new research facility is unlike any other. Devoid of microscopes, test tubes, and lab coats, the space is designed for integrated technology. Each researcher is part of a team whose skills range from medicine to video game coding, making for a truly interdisciplinary atmosphere. “If you create the right space and the right culture, people will come together organically,” says research team director Gordon Broderick. "Really exciting solutions to some very hard problems will emerge.”

And what exactly are the problems they’re solving? Each researcher, says Broderick, is embedded in a team of specialists “with skills reaching across the clinic to the supercomputer” in order to work together in building medical-based code to cure diseases. Computer coding might help treat illnesses scientists don’t understand well, like Parkinson’s and cancer. According to Broderick, tech giants like Facebook, Microsoft, and Google are becoming more interested in health research, but “so far we are possibly the only ones bringing large-scale computer gaming code into a hospital to improve the standard of care.”

The space emulates the energetic atmosphere of Silicon Valley, appearing trendy and relatable for emerging minds from Rochester’s universities. Writeable surfaces encompass the facility, and charging ports are abundant. Seating is casual and comfortable, tailored to the digital nature of their work.

Broderick couldn’t be happier with the space. “The designers, architects, and engineers far exceeded all our expectations… The colors, the light, the whole space yells of high-tech creativity,” he says. “A space even Google would be jealous of.”