Carnegie Mellon University

Andrew Li

April 28, 2023

Tepper School Faculty Member Receives Prestigious NSF Early-Career Award

Andrew Li, Assistant Professor of Operations Research at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, has earned a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his work on developing blood tests to detect early-stage cancer. The award, part of the Faculty Early Career Development Program, is given to individuals early in their careers who play an integral role in furthering their area of science.

“It is an honor to be recognized for my contributions to the field,” said Li.

“The advancements in this space continue to grow at a significant rate, and I look forward to continuing to study this area for years to come.”

An accurate blood test for early-stage cancer (called a liquid biopsy) is one of the most important problems in oncology. Progress has largely been enabled by advances in technology for collecting data (next-generation DNA sequencing, in particular), and in computational power for analyzing this new data. The race to a solution is tantalizingly close to the finish, and the last steps will have less to do with stockpiling technology and data, and more with optimizing the design of liquid biopsies to carefully balance accuracy and cost.

In addition to his work on blood tests and early-stage cancer detection, Li’s other research interests include statistics, optimization, and machine learning, with applications to operations management and medicine. 

The award will support Li’s research and educational goals. More specifically, it will support the development of algorithms designed precisely for these optimization problems as well as interdisciplinary work with medical researchers and practitioners to apply the algorithms. The award also supports a plan for integrating research with education, which will aid in disseminating this work to students, the academic medical community, and private companies.

“We are proud of the tremendous work Li has already accomplished so early in his career,” said Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, Dean of the Tepper School.

“His work is yet another example of how the Tepper School community fosters an environment for the intelligent future, and we are grateful to have his expertise in our program.”