April 20 2015

12:00 Tamkin Auditorium

This seminar is sponsored by Departments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Medicine and the Evolutionary Medicine Program

Michael Hochberg
French National Centre for Scientific Research, University of Montpellier

Cancer Evolution: From Cells to Populations to Prevention


Tamkin Auditorium (Room B-130)
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center

Since the mid-1970s, cancer has been described as a process of Darwinian evolution, with somatic cellular selection being a fundamental process leading to malignancy. Yet the integration of ecology and evolutionary biology to understanding and controlling neoplastic progression is still relatively uncommon. This is now beginning to change, and there is a growing interest in the interface between ecological and evolutionary theories and the idea of preventing or managing cancer as opposed to its eradication. I describe fronts where the ecological and evolutionary perspective is most developed, in particular, that cancer generates substantial levels of phenotypic diversity, which makes it a challenge to control even when discovered in early stages. Evolution has also apparently occurred at the species level, both in terms of influences on the prevalence of cancers across species with extremely different life-histories, and its prevalence across different tissues and organs within our bodies. Finally, I present an analysis supporting the notion that major advances in reducing cancer morbidity and morality can be achieved with preventive approaches.