The Arizona Cancer Evolution Center (ACE) is advancing our fundamental understanding of cancer and its clinical management through the development and application of evolutionary and ecological models to cancer biology. ACE leverages a highly interdisciplinary team to understand the fundamental nature of cancer and to apply this understanding for clinical impact, including cancer prevention,and response to therapy. We use evolutionary and ecological models to study the ways in which cancer has constrained the life strategies and development of species, especially humans, and to reveal the nature and function of cancer suppression mechanisms. One of our priorities is cultivating a scientific environment that facilitates the continued development of novel methods and innovative applications of evolutionary and ecological theory to cancer at multiple time and spatial scales.

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In 2009 the National Cancer Institute established 12 new centers in their PS-OC (Physical Sciences and Oncology Centers) program devoted to applying insights from the physical sciences to the problem of cancer. At Arizona State University, the Center for the Convergence of Physical Sciences and Cancer Biology received a 5 year grant to study cancer as a physical entity.  The Center studied issues such as

  • How do cancer cells behave as physical objects?
  • How do the physical properties of cells change as a function of cancer progression?
  • Can cancer provide insights into the nature of life in general?
  • How do cancer cells relate to cells in their surrounding environment?
  • Can we find new ways of controlling cancer based on the forces in their microenvironment?
  • Does quantum mechanics play a role in cancer?
  • Can cancer biologists learn anything from astrobiology?

The archive of this PS-OC program can be accessed here.