Dr. Christopher Rackauckas
Applied Mathematics Instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Senior Research Analyst at University of Maryland, Baltimore, School of Pharmacy
Chris' research and software is focused on Scientific AI and Scientific Machine Learning: the integration of domain models with artificial intelligence techniques like machine learning. By utilizing the structured scientific (differential equation) models together with the unstructured data-driven models of machine learning, our simulators can be accelerated, our science can better approximate the true systems, all while enjoying the robustness and explainability of structured dynamical models.
Chris's recent work is focused on bringing personalized medicine to standard medical practice through the proliferation of software for scientific AI. Chris is at the cutting edge of mathematical methods for scientific simulation. He is the lead developer of the DifferentialEquations.jl solver suite along with over a hundred other Julia packages, earning him the inaugural Julia Community Prize and front page features in tech community sites. Chris brought these enhanced numerical approaches to the domain of pharmaceutical modeling and simulation as the lead developer of Pumas. Pumas is scientific AI in clinical practice. Pumas makes it possible to predict the optimal medication dosage for individuals, reducing the costs and potential complications associated with treatments. The software is currently being tested in the administration of treatment for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), an opioid withdrawal disorder in newborn babies. NAS requires medically administered morphine doses every four hours to prevent the infants from experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Pumas is being used to predict personalized safe dosage regimens by incorporating realistic biological models (quantitative systems pharmacology) and deep learning into the traditional nonlinear mixed effects (NLME) modeling framework. This software and its methodology are also being tested in clinical trials at Johns Hopkins University for its ability to predict an individual's drug response to vancomycin and automatically prescribe optimal doses directly from a patient's health records.
Chris started this work while completing his Masters and Ph.D. at the University of California, Irvine where he was awarded the Mathematical and Computational Biology institutional fellowship, the Graduate Dean's Fellowship, the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship, the Ford Predoctural Fellowship, the NIH T32 Predoctural Training Grant, and the Data Science Initiative Summer Fellowship. His research with his advisor, Dr. Qing Nie, focused on the methods for simulating stochastic biological models and detailing how the randomness inherent in biological organisms can be controlled using stochastic analysis. Chris bridged the gap between theory and practice by having a "wet lab bench" in Dr. Thomas Schilling's lab, where these methodologies were tested on zebrafish. Fluorescence Light Microscopy (FLIM) measurements of retinoic acid in the zebrafish hindbrain showed that the predicted control proteins could attenuate inherent biological randomness. The result was a verified mathematical theory for controlling the randomness in biological signaling. Chris received the Kovalevsky Outstanding Ph.D. Thesis Award from the Department of Mathematics upon graduation and was showcased in an interview "Interdisciplinary Case Study: How Mathematicians and Biologists Found Order in Cellular Noise" in iScience.
As an undergraduate at Oberlin College, Chris was awarded the NSF S-STEM scholarship and the Margaret C. Etter Student Lecturer Award by the American Crystallographic Association, an award usually given for PhD dissertations, for his work on 3+1 dimensional incommensurate crystal structure identification of H-acid. This award was given for Service Crystallography for its potential impact on industrial dye manufacturing.