Doing the Math to Improve Medical Treatment
Dr. Moriah Pellowe ’14 is using mathematics to better understand and optimize medical treatment and access.
4 min. read
March 15, 2022

Dr. Moriah Pellowe ’14 has been using her mathematics expertise to impact the lives of individuals through model-informed drug development. 

After completing her honours bachelor of science degree in mathematics at Redeemer, Pellowe went on to complete a doctorate degree in applied mathematics at the University of Waterloo. Her graduate research was in the field of mathematical oncology, in which mathematical models are used to answer biological questions about cancer. Her work looked at questions about different types of cancer cells and their response to treatment or the tumour’s environment. She also looked at how treatment regimens could be optimized based on what was going on within the cancer cell or within the larger immune system.

“I have always had a deep sense of wonder and appreciation for the complexity and beauty of God’s creation, and I have also wanted to steward my skills and abilities to help others,” says Pellowe. “Just as with other scientists of the past and present, a deep sense of wonder has fueled a lifelong learning and has spurred me on to continue in higher education.”

“I have always had a deep sense of wonder and appreciation for the complexity and beauty of God’s creation, and I have also wanted to steward my skills and abilities to help others.”

After finishing her PhD, Pellowe pivoted from applications in oncology to applications within the pharmaceutical industry in a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy. Her research looked at physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models, which are mathematical models that describe what the body does to a drug after it has been administered. In this role, one of her research projects included developing an open-source software tool that simulated clinical trials and can be used in the development of generic drugs, allowing for greater access to treatment. Pellowe’s other main project was to develop an open-source lung model that can be used to simulate the absorption of inhaled drugs. Finally, she and her supervisor developed a course to train graduate students in PBPK modelling.

“As I learn more about the world around me through mathematics and biology, my awe for God and His creation only increases,” she says. “Faith has also influenced my work as I endeavour to use my mathematical abilities to improve people’s lives. This desire to apply my skills and abilities to relevant problems has directed me to biological and medical applications.”

Pellowe has left a huge impact on the mathematics department at Redeemer. Her professors are incredibly proud of her and all she has gone on to do in such a short time. Even as an undergraduate student, Moriah co-authored a mathematics research publication with Dr. Kyle Spyksma, based on a summer research project. She also co-authored a presentation at a conference of the ACMS (Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences) and has obtained prestigious national funding from NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) for her doctoral work. 

“Moriah’s research explores ways to use mathematics to solve significant health conundrums. She has also given back to Redeemer by participating in alumni mentoring and giving guest lectures in our mathematics courses,” says Dr. Kevin VanderMeulen, professor of mathematics. “Moriah is a talented researcher and communicator who desires to use her gifts for the greater good.” 

“As I learn more about the world around me through mathematics and biology, my awe for God and His creation only increases.”

All of this inspired Redeemer to recognize Pellowe through a nomination for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities Young Alumni Award, which recognizes individuals who have graduated within the last 10 years and have achieved uncommon leadership or success in a way that reflects the values of Christian higher education.

“While it’s a challenge to choose just one individual to nominate for this award each year, when Moriah’s name was suggested, it became so obvious that she was our 2022 candidate,” says Christine Giancola, director of strategic relations. “Her incredible achievements in mathematics are not only academically rigorous, they are solving real world problems such as improving cancer treatments. Moriah is a wonderful example of Redeemer’s mission in action.”

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