Lisette de Pillis holds the Norman F. Sprague Chair of Life Sciences and is a Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College. She is also co-Director of the HMC Center for Quantitative Life Sciences, and is the Director of the HMC Global Clinic Program. Her training at UCLA was in computational fluid dynamics and numerical linear algebra. Her research interests have moved from fluid dynamics and parallel computing to mathematical biology and cancer immunology. She collaborates with medical doctors and other mathematicians to develop models of cancer, treatments, and the activity of the immune system. She applies mathematical optimal control techniques to help determine improved treatment protocols for patients. Although cancer immunology is her main area of research, she has also been active in the development of models of HIV and T-cell dynamics. Professor de Pillis's multidisciplinary accomplishments were recognized by the Argonne National Laboratory with the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Distinguished Scholar award.
Professor de Pillis will speak on the development and analysis of mathematical models of cancer and immunotherapy treatments. Immunotherapy, a treatment approach that enhances the body's natural ability to fight cancers, is becoming increasingly prevalent in many multi-stage treatment programs that also include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. The critical importance of the immune system in combating cancer has been verified both clinically and through mathematical models. Professor de Pillis will discuss the biological and mathematical sides of the question of how cancer grows, how the cancer interacts with the immune system, and treatment strategies that combine conventional chemotherapy approaches with those that harness the power of the immune system.