Beginning with PC Nowell's work in the 1970s, we know that starting from a single clone, cancers show a striking amount of intratumor heterogeneity. This heterogeneity results from the accumulation of genetic mutations and epigenetic changes as cells divide and means that tumor cells inside the same tumor can be different. Not all genetic mutations have the same impact on the fitness of a tumor cell: We know evolution selects for phenotypes (and the genotypes responsible for those phenotypes) that can better exploit the dynamic environment in which they live. Thus those cells that can better take advantage of their environment in terms of other tumor and non-tumor cells as well as the physical microenvironment (space, oxygen, nutrients...) will be more successful and eventually constitute the majority of the tumor population. Understanding the interactions between the cellular and physical agents in the tumor microenvironment will require an evolutionary and ecological perspective that can only be fulfilled with the help of mathematical models that can integrate the wealth of biological and clinical data being produced.
This workshop will bring together cancer researchers and mathematical oncologists as well as ecologists with the aim of understanding how ecological principles can be used to understand cancer, how the mathematical tools used by theoretical ecologists could be used to gain new insights in cancer research and what principles of ecological management could be used to produce new therapies to treat cancer in the clinic.