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Gordon Research Conference — Physical Science of Cancer

10th February 2019   -   15th February 2019
Galveston, TX, United States


Aberrant physical context is a hallmark of cancer that includes altered tissue and extracellular matrix (ECM) architecture, physical properties of cells, mechanical cues, and transport processes due to convection and diffusion. These changes are not static, but vary over space and time ultimately influencing the evolutionary dynamics underlying cancer heterogeneity. Importantly, physical features of cancer are not passive bystanders, but actively regulate the many molecular changes that are currently being explored by precision medicine in the clinic. New scientific approaches are needed to better understand how the physics of cancer impact disease development, progression, and therapy. Indeed, a progressively clearer understanding of cancer complexity can be gained by using experimental models that allow recapitulation and monitoring of the specific physical cues and forces inherent to cancer across multiple levels (molecular, cellular, tissue level) and in real time. Furthermore, multi-scale computational models (continuum to cellular to molecular) enable quantitative, testable predictions of physical coupling among cells and microenvironmental conditions on the macroscopic scale. This GRC on Physical Science of Cancer will provide a forum to discuss how the physical properties of cancer can be measured, modeled experimentally, and computationally predicted. These concepts and approaches will be presented in the context of challenges and opportunities in the field. Presentations by global leaders in cancer biology/oncology will provide a broad framework of the current status of cancer research including immunooncology, precision medicine, and cancer evolution. Engineers, mathematicians, chemists, and physicists will provide perspectives on how physical sciences technologies and approaches advance insights related to the multiscale mechanics and forces of cancer, spatiotemporal dynamics of cell-microenvironment interactions, imaging approaches, and computational methods. The collective contribution of these diverse fields will ultimately advance our understanding of the functional coupling between the biochemical and physical properties of cancer and advance clinical care and treatment.

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