Mathematics Colloquium: Ostrom Lecture: An ecological perspective on cancer
7:00pm SPARK G45
New techniques for studying single cells have revealed that cancer is more than a series of genetic mutations that create a cell that divides uncontrollably, but a more complex process where tumor cells differ from each other and modify the behavior of non-cancerous cells around them. Complex processes like this have long been the realm of ecologists, who study the messy interactions between organisms and their environments. There is growing interest in using an ecological perspective to better understand cancer design treatments. I take the perspective that the body, like essentially everything in biology, is a self-organized system, meaning that it operates through local rules without centralized control. Through a series of self-organized systems from ecology, ant colonies, viruses and cancer, we will discuss the marvelous ways that they are regulated, and how this regulation is susceptible to rare but deadly subversion and breakdown.