Press Release From: [Your local school, college, university, company]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Mathematics Awareness Month April 2002: Mathematics and the Genome

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[Your city:] How much mathematics will medical researchers need to know in the coming decades? A lot more than they need to know now.

Researchers are hoping for an era of individualized medicine, when your doctor will have your DNA sequence available on the computer. If you are sick, he or she will use technology to diagnose the problem and to predict how you as an individual are likely to respond to the treatments available.

How does mathematics come into this picture? Numerical analysis, statistics, and modeling are all used to translate genetic information into data useful to researchers. For instance, the signature of a tumor may be 15,000 numbers. Researchers would look for whether sampled numbers fall into clusters-groups of tumors that are in a sense close to each otherbecause clusters of tumors have, in some cases, behaved similarly under treatment. Once one has found these clusters, statistical techniques would be used to assign a given tumor to a group. It is still an open mathematical problem as to what is the best way to find clusters, but current methods are enough to detect clusters in many situations.

This opens the door to a totally new way for oncologists to diagnose tumors, and to make what is often a life-or-death decision about what treatment to use. Mountains of data are being generated by new experiments, and this poses an opportunity and a challenge -- how do we analyze this data and make the most of it?

People who know both molecular biology and mathematics are currently in great demand to work in universities, medical research, and biotech startup companies. If the dream of individualized medicine is realized, those who work as health care providers will need to be more sophisticated about mathematics and statistics, and those who do medical research will need to know even more.

Other benefits of the genome project will include advances in agriculture and livestock production, pharmaceutical industries, forensics, energy technologies, and environmental resources.

Resources for this year's Mathematics Awareness Month program can be found at **www.mathaware.org/mam/02/**.

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*Each year the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics sponsors Mathematics Awareness Month to recognize the importance of mathematics through a series of articles and an accompanying poster that highlight mathematical developments and applications in a particular area.*

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The Joint Policy Board for Mathematics is an organization of the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.*