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Arizona Cancer Evolution Center

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.

Most Tumors in Snakes are Cancerous

This study, A Multi-Institutional Collaboration to Understand Neoplasia, Treatment and Survival of Snakes, is just published in the journal Animals (January 21 2022).  Although snakes seem to have more tumors than other species of reptiles studied, nothing much is...

Congratulations to Daniel Chavez!

Congratulations to Daniel Chavez!

Daniel is a post-doctoral researcher with ACE and he has just won a Carol and Jim Patton Award for Outstanding Latin American Graduate Student of Mammalogy Award from the American Society of Mammologists!  Well done Daniel!

Spatial Structure Governs the Mode of Tumour Evolution

Spatial Structure Governs the Mode of Tumour Evolution

Knowing how tumors evolve would be very useful to clinicians trying to predict the spread of cancer and the likely success of different therapies.  New mathematical models developed by Robert Noble and his colleagues should help.  In this major research paper...

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!