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Mathematical models of cancer ecology and evolution
Cancer can be viewed as an evolutionary process in which cells of different types compete with each other. In the past decade, a huge diversity of cancer has been observed on the genomic level. By now, it is clear that we cannot speak about a tumour as one homogeneous entity, but it is viewed as a collection of genetically different cells. What does this imply for the ecology within the tumour? So far, the phenotypic diversity received less attention, but it is clear that the dynamics of an evolving tumour will be different if the traits of cancer cells are continuously distributed. This project will develop and assess theoretical models for the genomic and phenotypic diversity of cancers and investigate how this influences the macroscopic patterns of a tumor.
Representative publication: Opasic et al., https://bmccancer.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12885-019-5597-1
Evolutionary dynamics in complex population structures
Population structure defined by networks can have a major impact on evolutionary dynamics. So far, most theoretical work in this area focuses on the time and probability that it takes until an advantageous mutant has taken over the whole network. For these cases, approaches to analyze all networks up to a certain size have been developed. However, there are many other observables that could be relevant. Looking at networks from this novel perspective will allow us to develop us a deeper understanding of the impact of complex population structure on evolutionary dynamics.
Representative publication: Möller et al., https://www.nature.com/articles/s42003-019-0374-x