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K-State Today

November 26, 2019

Division of Biology Seminar speaker to present 'Using Ecological and Evolutionary Principles to Define, Understand, and Treat Cancer'

Submitted by Division of Biology

Joel Brown, senior member of the Cancer Biology and Evolution Group at the Moffitt Cancer Center, will present "Using Ecological and Evolutionary Principles to Define, Understand, and Treat Cancer" as part of the Division of Biology Seminar Series at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, in 221 Ackert Hall.

Brown will discuss how cancer be understood — and perhaps treated — using principles developed from evolutionary game theory. These models see cancer as a "speciation event," in which the cell lineage develops its own genetic program, thereby becoming a unit of natural selection. The goal is to understand and direct the cancer cells’ evolution. Like species in an ecosystem, cancer cells evolve adaptations to better acquire resources, avoid the hazards of the immune system, and occupy new spaces and organs of the patient. The failure of therapy happens when cancer cells evolve resistance. Understanding the evolutionary and ecological game that goes on between treatment strategies and the cancer cells offers new insights and hope that otherwise incurable cancer might be managed as a survivable chronic disease, or better yet, cured by beating cancer at its own ecological and evolutionary chess game.

Brown received his doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Arizona. Before his current position at the Moffitt Cancer Center, he was a distinguished professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Illinois, Chicago. His past research has applied evolutionary game theory to study resource acquisition — foraging behavior — and the evolutionary consequences of fear in a wide range of animal species.

If you would like to visit with Brown, please contact Kimberly With at kwith@k-state.edu.

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