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College of Science & Mathematics

Evolution & Cancer

The Dean's Distinguished Speaker Series presents:  Evolution & Cancer

Speaker David Botstein, Ph.D., Anthony B. Evnin Professor of Genomics Director at Princeton University and Director at the Lewis-Sigler Institute Princeton University 

Friday, MARCH 28th 

1:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. 

Pfleeger Hall

Genomics has resulted in the realization that the central functions of all eukaryotes are highly conserved, not only at the level of individual protein functions, but also complex biological pathways and systems. A parallel consensus has emerged that cancer is the result of somatic cells having serially gained, by a series of mutations, the ability to grow independently, to recruit resources from the circulation and the stroma, to invade local tissues, and to found anatomically distant metastases, ultimately killing the host. From the point of view of the cancer-causing somatic cell population, this is evolution driven by mutation and selection. These ideas motivated a comparison between results of molecular genetic studies of experimental evolution in yeast and the molecular genetic phenomena associated with tumorigenesis and tumor progression. We find some very striking similarities, including recurring genomic rearrangements, alterations of the regulation of specific growth-promoting genes, population-genetic features that affect the fitness trajectories of growth rate variants in evolving populations, and physiological and metabolic similarities derived from the conservation of the basic plan of growth and cell multiplication among all eukaryotes. Deep sequencing of evolving yeast populations has revealed dynamic features of evolutionary change that resemble those found in human tumors. Since the relative fitness of mutations, either alone or in combination, can readily be studied by genetic analysis in yeast, we expect that yeast studies will, in the near future, help to distinguish "driver" from "passenger" mutations in tumors as well.

This event is open to faculty and students.

Sponsored by the College of Science and Mathematics' Office of the Dean and Bioinformatics