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'Le Monde' Research Prize 2016

Vanessa Cabet - 4/01/2017

Julien Jouganous receives the 2016 'Le Monde' Research Prize: The evolution of cancer in equations

Last December Julien Jouganous, former Phd student in the Monc team, received the 2016 Research Prize awarded by the prestigious French newspaper 'Le Monde' for his research work on modelling and simulation in oncology, at a time when cancer remains one of the major public health challenges of the 21st century. 

You have received an award from 'Le Monde' for your thesis entitled "Modelling and simulation of the growth of pulmonary metastases". What is this thesis about? In what way is it innovative?

This thesis covers the mathematical modelling then simulation of the evolution of pulmonary metastases using medical imaging data. In simple terms, we retrieve the image of the tumour and, with the help of equations, we simulate and attempt to predict the image, i.e. the future forms and size of the tumour at instantt. 
I think that the main innovative aspect of this work comes from the variety of mathematical tools that we have used (image processing, modelling and simulation by partial differential equations, solving of inverse problems and automated learning) in order to address a complex medical problem. 
The encouraging results obtained during the validation of the method on clinical cases point to several types of potential medical applications, such as the planning of examinations or even surgery or the study of the response to certain treatments. 

Why did you choose this thesis subject?

Before my PhD studies, I trained as a general engineer at the research university École centrale de Lyon. After that, I wanted to train and specialise in applied mathematics by continuing my studies in the form of a thesis. The aim was not to write theorems but rather to design very applied methods to multidisciplinary problems. From this point of view, the themes addressed by the Monc team corresponded to what I was looking for perfectly.

What does this award represent for you?

First of all, this award recognises three wonderful years of research on complex and exciting problems within the Monc team. The interest shown for our work and the fact that it has received an award among a number of high quality theses is a matter of great pride to me. Finally, and what is perhaps the most important thing, it is a great way to make our research known to the general public.

What are you doing at the moment?

Following a postdoc year in population genetics in Quebec, I have changed course somewhat as I am currently working as a data scientist at Cdiscount, the French e-commerce website. This allows me to develop my skills in statistical learning, a field I was able to discover during my thesis work and which is of particular interest to me, and to get closer to the industry applications of these methods.

Keywords: Oncology MONC Research Prize