Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My visit to the Mathematical Neuro-Oncology group at NorthWestern and the talk I gave about glioblastoma evolutionary dynamics and metastasis

I recently was honored by an invitation to visit Chicago and present some of my recent research to my friends and collaborators in a new group formed there by +Kristin Swanson called Mathematical Neuro-Oncology. I spent my time visiting their new, beautiful lab;

celebrating +Russ Rockne's transition;

having some coffee;

visiting my roots;

finding out that a paper long in the works, based on an opinion piece I wrote a few years ago about the effects of the #IDH1 mutation in secondary #glioblastoma, is finally in press at Neuro-Oncology (aside: Somehow there is an editorial written about it that is available (if you PAY, which I haven't yet), but the article is not yet itself available); listening to +Kristin Swanson practice for her +TEDx talk, which I've heard went well, but haven't seen yet (more info here:; and actually giving a talk.

I couldn't decide what to talk about, and since the audience was going to be half computational neuro-oncologists (casual dress) and half general scientific/medical folks (white coast, ties, scrubs), I decided to give a talk in two parts - about a half an hour each.

I spent the first half hour talking about an exciting (to me at least) extension to previous work I've done here at IMO with +Alexander Anderson and +David Basanta and others on glioblastoma stem cells. I've blogged on this topic before, from posts about our recent paper in PLoS Comp Biology to a recent grant we submitted - which, frustratingly didn't get scored due to a very prototypical reviewer #3 (reviewers 1 and 2 gave us 1's 2's and 3's and reviewer #3 gave us 7's, 8's and 9's).

The second half I talked about the work I've done with +Philip Gerlee and +Alexander Anderson and others to understand how a filter-flow paradigm of metastatic spread can help us understand (and intervene) in the process of #metastasis itself. We've published most of this work as a perspective piece in Nature Reviews Cancer, a test of the self-seeding hypothesis in J. Roy. Soc. Interface, a review in a Springer textbook (pre-print here) and recently, a more clinically oriented piece under review at Clinical and Experimental Metastasis (you can see a pre-print here on the +bioRxiv Preprints site). Both I and Philip Gerlee have blogged about it (including a shared post here in response to a Cancer Research UK blog post which we took exception to (at least to parts of it)) in the past as well.

So - anyways, here are the slides. The first half is work in progress, and we're pretty excited about it. I'd love to know if anyone has any feedback.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

5th Annual (final?) Physical Sciences in Oncology Centers meeting at the NCI

I just got back from 3 days at the National Cancer Institute for the (final?) meeting of the Physical Science in Oncology Centers. It hopefully isn't the REAL final meeting, but it is the final one as we know the PSOCs, as they are changing drastically in the way that they fund folks - in ways that haven't been entirely decided yet.  Either way, I've been attending these meetings since the beginning, and they have been quite important as formative experiences for me: showing me that outside the box thinking is OK (even encouraged) in cancer research, and that being a non-standard cancer biologists can be a way forward.

Anyways, it was a great meeting, with interesting talks ranging from origin of life, to mouse modeling to evolutionary game theory. There was a young investigator session (which I missed, but heard was really good) and a poster session, where I gave this poster -
As always, there were lots of great opportunities for networking, catching up with old friends, and making new ones. I storified the tweetcasting under the hashtag #PhysOnc (it was lively) to give you a flavor of the meeting. So, here that is: