Evolutionary Biology and Ecology of Cancer

4–8 June 2018

Wellcome Genome Campus, Hinxton, UK


Knowledge of evolution and ecology is important to understand and
clinically control cancer. Unfortunately, there are few cancer biologists
trained in evolution and ecology, and few evolutionary biologists and
ecologists work in cancer research. This course aims to cross-train
evolutionary biologists and ecologists in cancer, and to train cancer
biologists in the relevant evolutionary biology and ecology to facilitate
cross fertilization of ideas and forge active collaborations.

Evolution and ecology form the basis of the theory of cancer. Neoplasms
evolve at the cellular level. Somatic genetic and epigenetic changes
generate diversity among cells, and natural selection leads to the
evolution of mutant clones that can proliferate and disseminate
throughout the body. These dynamics all have important clinical
implications. The success of cancer prognostics are determined by the
evolution and ecology of tumours. The rate of somatic evolution
determines the rate of progression, and efforts at cancer prevention are
attempts to interfere with that process. Cancer therapeutic interventions
often select for resistant clones and therefore fail because of the same
evolutionally pressures and ecological dynamics that drive tumour
progression. Furthermore, cancer has been an important selective force in
the evolution of organisms and has led to specific forms of cancer
resistance and vulnerability in different organisms, including humans.

This course is aimed at researchers currently working in cancer and/or
evolution and ecology. It is particularly suited to evolutionary
biologists and ecologists interested in moving into cancer research, and
to cancer biologists and oncologists who lack formal training in
evolutionary biology. Applications are invited from early career
scientists, including post-graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and
new principle investigators.

Learning outcomes
After attending this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the principles of evolutionary biology as applied to somatic cell evolution in cancer (e.g. generation of diversity, driver mutations, epistasis, selective pressures, cellular co-operation and competition, units of selection).
  • Describe the principles from ecology relevant to studying tumour microenvironments.
  • Develop proficiency with the tools for measuring the evolution and ecology of tumours.
  • Evaluate those tools and metrics used to measure ecosystems and evolution that can be applied to cancer.
  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of cancer prognostics, particularly evolutionary prognostics
  • Apply evolutionary and ecological approaches to the problem of therapeutic resistance.


The course will start at approximately 12:00 on Monday, 4 June and close
at approximately 13:30 on Friday, 8 June 2018.

Course topics

  • Introduction to the evolution and ecology of cancer
  • Understanding vulnerability to cancer
  • The evolution of cancer clones
  • The cancer ecosystem
  • Evolutionary prognostics
  • Thwarting therapeutic resistance

This is a residential course. All participants are requested to stay
onsite for the full duration to benefit fully from discussions and
interactions with the faculty and other students.

is available.

Instructors and speakers

Scientific programme committee
Athena Aktipis Arizona State University, USA
& Institute of Cancer Research, UK
Mel Greaves
Institute of Cancer Research, UK
Carlo Maley
Arizona State University, USA & Institute of
Cancer Research, UK

Keynote speaker
Charles Swanton University College London, UK

Confirmed tutors
Noemi Andor
Stanford University, USA
Alexander Anderson Moffit Cancer Center, USA
Gerhardt Attard UCL Cancer Institute, UK
Amy Boddy University of California Santa Barbara, USA
Joel Brown Moffitt Cancer Centre, USA
Kit Curtius Barts Cancer Institute, UK
Andrea Sottoriva The Institute of Cancer Research, UK
Yinyin Yuan The Institute of Cancer Research, UK

Event organiser
Zoey Willard Wellcome Genome Campus, UK

How to apply


Registration with Single Accommodation £670.00

The fees include accommodation, meals and lectures for the duration of
the course. The fee will be requested once acceptance is confirmed.

This is a residential course. All participants will stay at The Wellcome
Genome Campus Conference Centre, Hinxton, Cambridge, for the nights of 4,
5, 6 and 7 June 2018. For twin accommodation,  roommates will be
allocated on a gender basis.

If you wish to book onsite accommodation either side of the summer
school/course dates, please contact the Conference

Application deadline: Closed

Places on this course will be awarded on merit. Applications are invited
from early career scientists, including post-graduate students,
postdoctoral fellows and new principle investigators.

The selection process will take place in May 2018.

The following will need to be provided:

  • Qualifications and justification for attendance
  • An outline of current research
  • Supervisor’s details: your supervisor will then receive an e-mail requesting a supporting statement to complete your application.

Please note: Applications cannot be considered without a
supervisor’s supporting statement.

Travel visas
Please contact the event organiser if you require a letter to support a
travel visa application. Note that letters will be provided to confirmed

Non-European Economic Area or Swiss nationals may be required to have a
visa to enter the UK.
Early application is strongly advised, as this process can take 6-8 weeks
or longer.

Please visit the following websites for further information:
UK Border Agency website: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/
Information for general visitors and business visitors: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/visiting/business/business-activities/


A limited number of registration bursaries are
available for PhD students to attend this course (up to 50% of the

The following documents will need to be provided:

  • CV
  • A justification letter from applicant
  • A supporting letter from supervisor stating financial need

To apply, please contact the event organiser.

Bursary deadline: Closed

Additional funding opportunities
our Funding webpage
for additional funding opportunities currently

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