Using Data to Save Lives: Wesley Harrott of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Shares How Medical Research Benefits from Emerging Technologies

This podcast episode is part of the EdTech Times podcast series, Preparing Your Organization for the Next Generation Research Enterprise, sponsored by Huron.

When it comes to medical research, the ability to share and analyze data rapidly and effectively can literally save lives.

According to Wesley Harrott, Associate Vice President of Research Administration at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, data can be used to accelerate the path to medical solutions.

“We have many, many years of data that we have available to us. And we generate much, much more every day,” he says. “Using EHR, electronic health records, really is allowing us to consume and to document data much more effectively, and hopefully consistently, that will allow us to do more research into it. And if we can get to that point, where we can really start interrogating that data effectively, that’s it.”

Wesley says that with the rising prevalence of biometric and health-related technologies, researchers are getting closer to finding these solutions. Technology today is being used to leverage massive amounts of data to complete very complicated, multi-factored functions, like predicting where a pandemic may spread. Yet when it comes to cancer, he says sometimes predictive analytics are even less cut and dry.

“Cancer is more complicated, unfortunately. It’s a very wily disease. It moves constantly. We think we’ve got to be one place, and all of a sudden, in response to that, it goes in a different direction. And so that’s the thing. And again, that’s where the data will be powerful, as we see over time it responded this way, did this, it went here, it responded to this that way. Hopefully it gets us where we want to be and finding the ultimate solutions,” he says.

While it’s tempting to push forward technologies that could help accelerate cures for diseases such as cancer, medical research institutions need to be particularly cautious in order to protect confidential patient information.

“For us particularly, being in the clinical environment, patient data — that’s very sensitive,” he says. “And so, making sure we’re responsible for and protective of it obviously is a big topic of conversation right now. And certainly we take that as a priority.”

So, how can medical research institutions use data to make life-saving developments, while still ensuring their patients’ privacy is protected and government regulations are upheld? Listen in to our interview with MD Anderson’s Wesley Harrott to learn more about the technological developments and unique considerations of cancer research.


This episode is brought to you by Huron.

Huron is a global professional services firm with an extensive history in higher education. For nearly two decades, Huron has provided consulting services for over 500 educational institutions, including all 100 of the top research universities in the United States.

You can learn more about what Huron does by visiting

Listen to the full series:

Preparing your organization for the next generation research enterprise