Meet Dr. Silva
Ariosto Silva, PhD
Moffitt Researcher, Department of Cancer Imaging and Metabolism
Lots of people change jobs for a better title or more benefits. Dr. Silva did it for a more noble reason. He wanted to affect lives.
The epiphany hit him in his third year as a software engineer. “It actually bothered me that it was just a job,” he recalls. So he went back to school, got his PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology and soon found his way to Moffitt Cancer Center.
Eight years later, Dr. Silva is realizing his dream as a scientist in the Department of Cancer Imaging and Metabolism. “What I do is create mathematical models to predict how patients will respond to therapy,” he explains. The goal: helping patients and their doctors make more informed decisions on which treatment regimen has the best chance of working for them.
It’s a difficult challenge because many tumors will develop a resistance to therapy. And while he doesn’t see patients, he feels the satisfaction of knowing he can help give them some peace of mind in a difficult time in their lives.
Dr. Silva is excited about the future of predictive research, “to actually talk to clinical doctors and come up with crazy ideas and convince these doctors to test these ideas in clinical trials,” he says, “so we can actually have breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer patients.”
The mathematician in him envisions the day when every cancer patient is given a piece of paper with graphs that plot the trajectory of what will happen over the next six months if they choose a particular treatment. Think of it as the ultimate intersection of precision and personalization. “That is how my work is going to contribute to the lives of patients two or three years from now,” he says.
For Dr. Silva, the math and the science mean nothing unless they help people beat their cancer. Nothing else matters to him. “Every day we come to work thinking about them,” he says. “That is our mission. That is the mission of Moffitt.”