Amanda Randles Awarded ACM Prize in Computing

4/24/24 Pratt School of Engineering

Randles was recognized for her groundbreaking work to use high performance computing to revolutionize medical diagnostics

Amanda Randles
Amanda Randles Awarded ACM Prize in Computing

Amanda Randles, the Alfred Winborne and Victoria Stover Mordecai Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences at Duke University, was awarded the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Prize in Computing. This prestigious award is presented to early-to-mid-career computer scientists whose research contributions have fundamental impact and broad implications. Awardees receive $250,000 from an endowment provided by Infosys. Ltd.

“Developing the best tools to help doctors prevent disease and improve patient care is one of the most worthwhile endeavors,” ACM President Yannis Ioannidis said in a press release. “Amanda Randles’ work addresses some of humanity’s most significant health challenges, such as heart disease and cancer. Every day, computers enable significant advances in many fields. Behind these advances there is always someone who has the vision to employ computing against a scientific challenge and the insight to devise and develop innovative methods to address the challenge. Amanda Randles has been that someone and has used her experience and technological breadth and depth to open new possibilities at the intersection of computation and biophysics.”

The ACM recognized Randles for her work to use innovative algorithms and high-performance computational tools to create detailed digital models to diagnose and treat vascular diseases. To accomplish this, Randles and her team developed a massively parallel fluid dynamics simulation, known as HARVEY. Randles began developing the code for HARVEY as a doctoral student working with Efthimios Kaxiras, the John Hasbrouck Van Vleck Professor of Pure and Applied Physics and Hanspeter Pfisetr, the An Wang Professor of Computer Science, at Harvard University.

Named after William Harvey, the scientist who discovered the circulation of blood, Randles first used the software to perform the first ever full-body scale simulation of 3D blood flow at the cellular level. In subsequent work, Randles used HARVEY to create models that can digitally mimic an entire week’s worth of an individual’s heartbeats, cataloging more than 700,000 beats. The previous record was only a few minutes.

In addition to this work, Randles and her team developed a computational approach called Adaptive Physics Refinement (APR) that captures detailed cellular interactions and their effects on cellular trajectory. Working with teams at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Randles was able to use APR to enhance the capabilities of a computational model to stimulate the movement of individual cancer cells across the human body, essentially creating a window that could track how cancer cells collide and interact with blood cells as they move through the vasculature. 

Randles’ pioneering work has led to computational advancements that allow researchers to optimize the use of supercomputers and cloud computing resources, enabling them to create detailed multiscale models while still significantly reducing computational demands.

I was first exposed to high performance computing work at IBM on the Blue Gene supercomputer. This effort showed me the real potential of supercomputers in tackling complex biomedical problems. As we witness the convergence of AI, continuous biometric monitoring, and robust computing platforms, the opportunities for innovation are boundless, and I’m thrilled to see our work push the boundaries of what’s possible in patient care.

Amanda Randles Alfred Winborne and Victoria Stover Mordecai Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences

“I am truly humbled to receive the ACM Prize in Computing. This honor is representative of not just my work, but the invaluable efforts of my students, collaborators, and mentors,” she said. “Their teamwork has been essential to our success, and I am deeply grateful to share this achievement with anyone who has been a part of my journey.”

Randles received her bachelor’s degree in both computer science and physics from Duke University, where she received her first patent as an undergraduate student. She earned her master’s degree in computer science and her PhD in applied physics from Harvard University with a secondary field in computational science. Randles has received wide recognition and honors for her work, including the 2017 ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award, an NSF CAREER Award, an NIH Pioneer Award, and she was named an MIT Technology Review Innovator Under 35, a 2020 Young Innovator of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, and a member of the National Academy of Inventors.