ORLY ALTER portrait
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Human Genetics
  • Utah Science, Technology, and Research (USTAR) Associate Professor, Scientific Computing and Imaging (SCI) Institute
  • Investigator, and Member of the Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program, Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI)
  • Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Co-Founder, Eigengene, Inc.
  • Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering


  • Doctor of Philosophy, STANFORD UNIVERSITY


Orly Alter's Curriculum Vitae

Orly Alter's Biography

Orly Alter is a Utah Science, Technology, and Research associate professor of bioengineering and human genetics at the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute1  and the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, the principal investigator of a National Cancer Institute's Physical Sciences in Oncology project,2  and the chief technology officer and a co-founder of Eigengene, Inc.3,4  Alter received her Ph.D. in applied physics at Stanford University and her B.Sc. magna cum laude in physics at Tel Aviv University. Her Ph.D. thesis on "Quantum Measurement of a Single System," which was published by Wiley-Interscience,5,6,7  is recognized as crucial to gravitational wave detection.8,9

Inventor of the "eigengene,"10,11,12  Alter formulates physics-inspired multi-tensor13,14  generalizations15,16,17,18,19  of the singular value decomposition to (i) compare and integrate any data types, of any number and dimensions, and (ii) scale with data sizes. Her models (iii) are interpretable in terms of known biology and batch effects and (iv) correctly20  predict21,22,23,24,25  previously unknown mechanisms.26,27  By validating a genome-wide pattern of DNA copy-number alterations in brain28,29,30,31,32  tumors as the best predictor of survival, her retrospective clinical trial33,34  proved that the models (v) discover accurate, precise, and actionable genotype-phenotype relationships, (vi) are relevant to populations based upon whole genomes of small cohorts, and (vii) can be validated. She discovered this, and patterns in lung,35,36  nerve, ovarian,37,38,39,40,41  and uterine tumors, in public data. Such alterations were recognized in cancer, yet attempts to associate them with outcome failed, demonstrating that Alter's algorithms are uniquely suited to personalized medicine.

Other Profile Data

26th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) (Boston, MA, November 18–21, 2021); Slides.

Decade of the Physical Sciences in Oncology Network (PS-ON) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Virtual Symposium (September 21–23, 2020); Slides.

2020 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Virtual Annual Meeting II (June 22–24, 2020); Slides.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Education Research Webinar (January 30, 2020), hosted by M. L. CollinsonSlides.

Stanford University Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering Seminar (Stanford, CA, January 16, 2020), hosted by M. A. Saunders; Slides.