Arizona Cancer Evolution Center (ACE)

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.

 

Find out more

 

Workshops

News

Before cancer kills, it cheats – Ace Scientist

In a public lecture entitled Why Cancer Is Everywhere, at Harvard Museum of Natural History last week, Athena Aktipis described her ACE research into the behavior of ‘cheating’ cells. These are cells that refuse to obey signals to conform to the agenda of the whole organism but instead forge their own agenda following evolutionary imperatives to proliferate and colonize new environments – the end result being cancer. Read a review of Athena’s talk by Harvard Correspondent, Brett Milano, here.

Frontiers in Cancer Research

Edited by Carlo C. Maley and Mel Greaves, published in 2016. This is the ideal book for anyone contemplating starting a career in, or shifting their career to, studying the dynamics that drive cancer progression and its response to therapy.

Transmissible cancers – more than ever suspected

Dogs, Tasmanian devils, clams and mussels – what have they all got in common? They can all get transmissible cancer. Three experts discuss their remarkable findings with Pauline Davies at the latest International Society for Evolution, Ecology and Cancer, held at Arizona State University. The interview was broadcast on ABC radio in February 2018. Listen and read transcript.

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 are building a cancer cactus garden on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University. Here  the weird and beautiful plant forms will 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.