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How AI Expands Access to Cancer Clinical Trials

As a public sector leader, my team and I constantly strive to find innovative ways of applying technology to help government organizations – with focus on delivering personalized digital services to their customers. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work on projects that made a difference in people’s lives, but one project that really stands out is a pilot that we recently completed that matches patients with available cancer clinical trials: The Opportunity Program (TOP).  

This project is particularly important to me due to my own personal life changing experience. In 2013, I battled and beat a very aggressive form of leukemia. I was very lucky, as I benefited from a treatment that had been recently developed by cancer researchers from the National Cancer Institute(NCI) and other similar institutions. Based on my struggle, I knew then that I had to find a way of giving back some day.

A few years later, in the spring of 2017, I started working with Justin Herman, who at the time, led the emerging citizen technology effort at GSA on leveraging AI to enhance citizen services. We held a workshop that summer, and more than 40 participants from federal agencies attended. There was a lot of interest and excitement, which compelled GSA to continue investing in researching its use for the greater good in the federal government. This workshop was followed by several successful hackathons and pilots, which my colleague, Dan Kuenzig led from Oracle. 

Dan’s work got noticed by GSA and subsequently he was invited to participate in the IT Modernization Centers of Excellence effort that the White House announced in February 2018, led by Chris Liddell and Jared Kushner. Dan continued working with several agencies during the pilot period to explore the use of AI for the betterment of citizen services. In the summer of 2018, Dan learned of a new AI initiative as part of the TOP, a program led by Gil Alterovitz, Presidential Innovation Fellow at the White House. The 14-week sprint sought to explore how Artificial Intelligence and Customer Experience solutions, could be used to create enhanced experiences for connecting cancer patients with available clinical trials. 

Dan’s proposal was accepted in the TOP Health Tech SprintThe 14-week “TOP Health” Tech Sprint included 10 teams delivering digital tools — built with federal data and emerging technologies like AI — to improve clinical trials, experimental therapies, and data-driven solutions for complex challenges from cancer to Lyme and tick-borne diseases. The Oracle TOP health team combined the efforts of participants from Oracle Public Sector and Oracle Healthcare in Washington, D.C. Oracle built a patient-centric solution for clinical trial matching. The solution matches patients battling cancer with clinical trial programs leveraging modern technologies like artificial intelligence to provide a more simplified and personalized experience for determining treatment.

As a cancer survivor myself (now 5 years in remission), I embrace every day and live life to the fullest. I am grateful to the entire Oracle team, the federal agencies and leadership that supported the TOP program and the TOP Health Tech Sprint. I’m also happy to have been part this journey that has helped government agencies adopt emerging technology and look forward to the next stage now that the U.S. Government has passed an executive order to adopt AI across government.

For more information on Oracle’s innovative personalized customer experience solutions, please join us at our 11th Annual Oracle Federal Forum, taking place in Washington, D.C. on March 26. I look forward to seeing you there.

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Comments ( 5 )
  • Kevin Amalfi Tuesday, February 26, 2019
    Great job dad! I'm super proud of you and your team! Happy 5 years remission!
  • David Ebert Friday, March 15, 2019
    This is such a great idea Franco, well done! What a fantastic use of technology.
  • Doug Waters Friday, March 15, 2019

    Most importantly, congratulations on 5 years in remission. I too am a leukemia (AML) survivor and am now coming up on one-year post stem cell transplant. The standard of care that saved my life also came out of clinical trials, some conducted by the Huntsman Cancer Institue, part of the University of Utah health care network. Thank you for your efforts to connect patients with appropriate clinical trials that will certainly benefit patients for years to come.

    Doug Waters
  • Jay Nath Thursday, March 21, 2019
    Thank you Franco for sharing your inspiring journey and your leadership in helping government and communities address their challenges through technology.
  • luis sanchez Wednesday, December 11, 2019
    Great story, so well written. I was using you as an example of how powerful storytelling can be. Congratulation on beating such terrible illness.
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