Ben Raphael, PhD, Professor, Department of Computer Science, Lewis-Sigler Institute, Princeton University, New Jersey, United States - Recipient of ISCB Innovator Award
2021 ISCB Innovator Award:
Ben Raphael, PhD

2021 ISCB Innovator Award:  Ben Raphael, PhD

Ben Raphael, PhD, Professor, Department of Computer Science, Lewis-Sigler Institute, Princeton University, New Jersey, United States

The year 2016 marked the launch of the ISCB Innovator Award, which is given to a leading scientist who is within two decades of receiving the PhD degree, has consistently made outstanding contributions to the field, and continues to forge new directions. Ben Raphael is the 2021 recipient of the ISCB Innovator Award.

Ben Raphael received an S.B. in Mathematics from MIT, a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and completed postdoctoral training in Bioinformatics and Computer Science at UCSD.

Ben Raphael is a Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University. His research focuses on the design of combinatorial and statistical algorithms for the interpretation of biological data. Recent areas of emphasis include cancer evolution, network/pathway analysis of genetic variants, and structural variation in human and cancer genomes.

His group’s algorithms have been used in multiple projects from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC). He co-led the TCGA Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma project and the network analysis in the ICGC Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG).

Ben is considered by many to be the leader in algorithmic computational cancer biology. He is the recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, the NSF CAREER award, and a Career Award at the Scientific Interface from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. His papers cover a range of topics in computational cancer biology. These include the problems of separating genomic mixtures of cancer cells according to the mutations present in their genomes; analyzing temporal progression of mutations in cancer; identifying recurrent copy number aberrations; and discovering important sets of mutations across cohorts of cancer patients according to a statistical signal of anti-correlation, or mutual exclusivity, between mutations in the set. Several of Ben’s algorithms -- including his THetA and AncesTree algorithms for analyzing mixtures of cancer cells, his Dendrix and Multi-Dendrix algorithms for analyzing mutually exclusive mutations, and his HotNet algorithm (RECOMB 2010, Nature Genetics 2015) for network analysis of cancer mutations -- have become standards by which other research groups benchmark their algorithms. Ben’s computational approach to discover important cancer mutations using mutual exclusivity has inspired many other groups to work on this problem.

ISCB will present the Accomplishments by a Senior Scientist Award, Overton Prize, Innovator Award and Outstanding Contributions to ISCB Award, at ISMB/ECCB 2021 (, which will take place in virtually, July 26-30, 2021.

Full bibliographical articles profiling the award recipients will be available in the ISMB/ECCB 2021 focus issue of the ISCB newsletter later this year, as well as the ISCB Society Pages in OUP Bioinformatics, and F1000 Research ISCB Community Journal.


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