Our program of research is predicated on the conviction that physics can provide deep new insights into the origin and nature of cancer. Importantly, we see physics as providing not merely a """"""""support role"""""""" in diagnosis and analysis, but as a crucial component in the conceptual basis on which a full understanding of the living cell in general, and cancer in particular, must be built. The conceptual driver of the program will be a Cancer Forum, a """"""""think tank"""""""" that will critically examine the foundational assumptions of cancer research, and help develop fundamentally new hypotheses and research strategies. The Forum will serve as a scaled-down yet diversified follow-up of the NCI workshop series that preceded this announcement, and will draw upon expertise from within the Network and the broader scientific community. It will be hosted by The Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science, which has a track record of facilitating ground-breaking research strategies in a multidisciplinary context. Forum workshops will be made available through webcasts and podcasts via the PS-OC website. The Forum will work closely with three interlinked experimental projects organized around the theme of mapping the physical correlates of cancer across a range of size scales from chromatin to cell clusters, and as a function of cancer progression. Thus for the first time it will be possible to systematically and accurately parameterize cancer cells at various stages of development and from a variety of micro-environments, according to their physical properties. The projects capitalize on the unique cluster of powerful new instrumentation being installed at Arizona State University, including threedimensional optical and elastic tomography, and will build on the long-standing collaboration between ASU and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, who will provide common cell lines for all the experimental projects. The cells will be complemented by tissue samples from the Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale. The experimental program will be paralleled by an advanced computational modeling system developed by ASU's Center for Biophysics. A placement scheme and graduate seminar program will be designed to foster interdisciplinary education and training, and a journalism fellowship program created to improve public outreach.
The Physical Sciences and Oncology Center at Arizona State University will further the depth and breadth of cancer research through a unique think tank approach to the ongoing research in the Center, the analysis of the physical nature of cancer cells, and larger conceptual challenges in the study of cancer. The Center will increase the number of researchers and the methods used to address cancer, which will improve the rate of discovery in cancer research.
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