Welcome to ACE

The mission of the Arizona Cancer Evolution Center (ACE) is to advance our fundamental understanding of cancer and its clinical management through the development and application of evolutionary and ecological models to cancer biology. ACE is funded by the National Cancer Institute under the Cancer Systems Biology Consortium.

Next Cancer and Nature of Life

We have postponed our August event due to many universities still being on summer break.  Our next meeting will be in October.  Details to follow soon!

Transmissible Cancer in Mammals -Watch recording here

Transmissible Cancer in Mammals -Watch recording here

Cancer and the Nature of Life Series. Friday 13 May 2022, Noon AZ and Pacific time.  Please join us! Brief Abstract:  Cancer arises when mutations drive cells of the body to abandon their usual functions and to instead embark upon a “selfish” evolutionary program...

Celebrating Gregor Mendel’s bicentenary

Celebrating Gregor Mendel’s bicentenary

Gregor Mendel is known as the father of genetics who was born 200 years ago in July 1822.  His life as a catholic Abbott and meticulous studies with pea plants are described in this radio documentary by ACE's Pauline Davies  

Summer School

After a two year break,  the 2022 Guarda summer school in Evolutionary Biology for master and PhD students returns. The main aim of the course is to develop the skills to produce an independent research project in evolutionary biology.The summer school will take place...

Cancer and Embryo Development Workshop, 17-18 January 2020, Tempe

Cancer and Embryo Development Workshop, 17-18 January 2020, Tempe

It has been known for some decades that there is a deep link between tumorigenesis and embryo development. Many of the hallmarks of cancer are also hallmarks of early-stage development: angiogenesis, hypoxia, cell motility, tissue invasion, stemness. It has even been...

Tracing the deep Evolutionary Roots of Cancer workshop

Tracing the deep Evolutionary Roots of Cancer workshop

Mon-Wed, April 23-25, 2018 Scottsdale. Cancer represents a breakdown in the regulatory mechanisms that mediate the relationship between individual cells and the organism as a whole, a relationship that dates back to the dawn of multicellularity over a billion years...

Our Projects

Organismal Evolution and Cancer Defenses

Here we are using Life History Theory to compare cancer rates across species in zoos and wildlife reserves and uncover the selective pressures that reduce cancer defenses in some animals and enhance them in others.  Our work will give new clues to cancer avoidance mechanisms that have evolved in the animal kingdom that can be used to prevent and treat cancers in humans.

Somatic Cell Evolution in Small Human Replicative Units

This Project studies somatic cell evolution in human colon crypts and tumor glands to determine whether gene selection or neutral genetic drift is more common during normal human aging and tumor progression. We are also examining the gene functioning of tumor cells in species identified in the Organismal Evolution and Cancer Defenses project (above) to test the predictions of Life History Theory.

Neoplastic Cell Evolution

This project takes into account both the evolution of cancer cell mutations and the environment surrounding a tumor in order to develop a better predictive test for the invasiveness of a tumor. We will also hope to be able to understand which aspects of a mutation most impact survival and which are most important to target when considering treatment.

Public Engagement

We love to talk about our work and explain what we do. One of our research themes concerns the prevalence of cancer throughout the multi-celled world and to illustrate this we have built a cancer cactus garden on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University. Here, the weird and beautiful plant forms illustrate the ubiquity of cancer. Check our progress or visit the garden if you get the chance. We also put on public lectures and seminars – check our events listings – and recordings of past events. If you are a teacher in the Phoenix area and would like a school talk about cancer in animals and plants from our talented team, please contact us. We have been going into lunchtime science clubs in local schools and to full classes to work with children from 5 years up!