NewThis course type is lecture

Evolutionary Biology and Ecology of Cancer

11 - 15 July 2016Wellcome Genome Campus, Hinxton, UK
Deadlines (at 23:59 UTC):
  • Bursary Deadline Closed
  • Application Deadline Closed

  • Summary

    Knowledge of evolution and ecology is important to understand and
    clinically control cancer. Unfortunately, there are few cancer biologists
    trained in evolution and ecology, and few evolutionary biologists and
    ecologists work in cancer research. The aim of this new course is to
    cross-train evolutionary biologists and ecologists in cancer, and to
    train cancer biologists in the relevant evolutionary biology and ecology
    to facilitate cross fertilization of ideas and forge active
    collaborations. For example, in the areas of evolutionary modelling and
    ‘steering’ in vitro, in determinants of convergent evolution,
    and in predictive parameters for evolutionary progression.

    Evolution and ecology form the basis of the theory of cancer. Neoplasms
    evolve at the cellular level. Somatic genetic and epigenetic changes
    generate diversity among cells, and natural selection leads to the
    evolution of mutant clones that can proliferate and disseminate
    throughout the body. Selective pressures within a neoplasm are determined
    by the ecology of the cells; for example, the tumour microenvironment,
    cell-cell interactions, the flux of resources within the environment and
    interactions with the extracellular matrix and the microbiome. Cancer
    therapeutic interventions often select for resistant clones and therefore
    fail because of the same evolutionally pressures and ecological dynamics
    that drive tumour progression.

    The focus of this first year will be the ecology of tumour
    microenvironments, which have a dramatic effect on the behaviour of
    cancer cells. This course is aimed at researchers currently working in
    cancer and/or evolution and ecology. It is particularly suited to
    evolutionary biologists and ecologists interested in moving into cancer
    research, and to cancer biologists and oncologists who lack formal
    training in evolutionary biology. Applications are invited from early
    career scientists, including post-graduate students, postdoctoral fellows
    and new principle investigators.

    Learning outcomes
    After attending this course, participants will be able to:

    • Understand the principles from ecology relevant to studying tumour microenvironments.
    • Understand the principles of evolutionary biology as applied to somatic cell evolution in cancer (e.g. generation of diversity, driver mutations, epistasis, selective pressures, cellular co-operation and competition, units of selection).
    • Demonstrate familiarity with the tools and metrics used to measure ecosystems and evolution that can be applied to cancer.
    • Understand the evolutionary dynamics that are important in cell-level evolution within neoplasms.
    • Apply evolutionary and ecological approaches to the problem of therapeutic resistance.
    • Demonstrate familiarity with the experimental (therapeutic) tactics for bypassing the evolutionary resilience of cancer including ecosystem directed modulation.
    • Understand the limits of our current knowledge of the evolution and ecology of cancer, and the most important open questions for future research.
  • Programme

    The course will start at approximately 13:00 on Monday, 11 July and close
    at approximately 13:00 on Friday, 15 July 2016.

    This course is lecture and discussion based. The programme will include
    working group meetings formed around common interests. Each working group
    will be tasked with identifying an important question in the evolution
    and ecology of cancer, and developing a draft grant proposal to address
    the question.

    Course topics

    • The dynamics of somatic evolution
    • Cancer phylogenetics
    • Ecological theory
    • Cooperation and cheating between neoplastic cells
    • Ecology of cell-type interactions
    • Ecological interactions with the microbiome
    • Ecology of inflammation in tumours
    • Ecological measurements
    • Acquired therapeutic resistance and adaptive therapy

    This is a residential course. All participants are requested to stay
    onsite for the full duration to benefit fully from discussions and
    interactions with the faculty and other students.

  • Instructors / Speakers

    Course instructors
    Athena Aktipis Arizona State University, USA &
    Institute of Cancer Research, UK
    Mel Greaves Institute of Cancer Research, UK
    Carlo Maley Arizona State University, USA &
    Institute of Cancer Research, UK

    Course tutors
    Alexander Anderson Moffitt Cancer Center, USA

    Karen Anderson
    Arizona State University, USA
    Amy Boddy Arizona State University, USA
    Joel Brown
    University of Illinois Chicago and Moffitt Cancer
    Center, USA
    Peter Campbell Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK
    Bob Gatenby Moffitt Cancer Center, USA
    Marco Gerlinger Institute of Cancer Research, UK
    Trevor Graham Barts Cancer Institute, UK
    Michalina Janiszewska Dana Farber Cancer Institute,
    David Posada University of Vigo, Spain
    Darryl Shibata University of Southern California, USA

    Andrea Sottoriva Institute of Cancer Research, UK

    Event organiser
    Jemma Beard Wellcome Genome Campus, UK

  • How to Apply


    Registration with Single Accommodation  £650.00

    The fees include accommodation, meals and lectures for the duration of
    the course. The fee will be requested once acceptance is confirmed.

    This is a residential course. All participants will stay at The Wellcome
    Genome Campus Conference Centre, Hinxton, Cambridge, for the nights of
    11-14 July 2016.

    If you wish to book onsite accommodation either side of the summer
    school/course dates, please contact the Conference

    Application deadline: Closed

    Places on this course are limited to 30 students and will be awarded on
    merit. The selection process will take place in May 2015. Applications
    are invited from early career scientists, including post-graduate
    students, postdoctoral fellows and new principle investigators.

    The following will need to be provided:

    • CV and justification for attendance
    • An outline of current research
    • Supervisor’s details: your supervisor will then receive an e-mail requesting a supporting statement to complete your application

    Please note: Applications cannot be considered without a
    supervisor’s supporting statement.

    Travel visas
    Please contact the event organiser if you require a letter to support a
    travel visa application. Note that letters will be provided to confirmed

    Non-European Economic Area or Swiss nationals may be required to have a
    visa to enter the UK.
    Early application is strongly advised, as this process can take 6-8 weeks
    or longer.

    Please visit the following websites for further information:
    UK Border Agency website:

    Information for general visitors and business visitors:

  • Bursaries

    A limited number of registration bursaries are available for PhD students
    to attend this school (up to 50% of the registration fee) from The Kay
    Kendall Leukaemia Fund and CR-UK.

    The following documents will need to be provided:

    • Abstract
    • CV
    • Covering letter
    • Letter from supervisor

    To apply, please contact the conference organiser.

    Bursary deadline: Closed

  • Sponsors

    We thank the following organisations for their support: