A Unique Collaboration

In 2008, the National Cancer Institute held a series of meetings that brought together physicists, biologists, chemists, engineers, and others to discuss new ways of thinking about cancer.

The meeting generated many novel ideas for investigating cancer, from applying the theory of evolution to investigating how the complex signaling between cancer cells and their micro-environment can be affected by physical changes such as the elasticity of tissues.

Its now know that cancer is primarily a disease of the genes, caused by changes passes on to us by our parents and by mutations that occur during our lifetime.

“Most cancer biologist are taking a ‘follow the genes,’ approach”, say’s Dr. Paul Davies.

“We want to compliment that by a ‘following the physics’ approach. The living cell is at once a bag of complex chemicals, a complex information processing network, and an elaborate system of pulleys, strings, pumps and other paraphernalia familiar to physicists and engineers. We need to bring an understanding of all three aspects into convergence.”

At the center for the convergence of physical sciences and cancer biology at Arizona State University, physical scientists will collaborate with oncologists and cancer researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research center in Seattle. Their focus will be to look at cancer cells and tumors as physical objects and map how physical changes to the call parallel progress of the disease, form a pre-cancerous state to malignant metastatic tumors.

Meetings in support of the Physical Sciences in Oncology  http://physics.cancer.gov/workshops/