Misleading models in mathematical oncology

Artem writes about what I could describe as a ‘decorative mathematical model’. A decorative model is what you find in certain biological journals where the mathematical model is not meant to drive the biological experiments nor to derive a new understanding of the biological data. I am not sure that the paper he describes fall in this category (I have not read the paper in detail) but his observations are useful to any mathematical biologist: a complicated mathematical model with lots of parameters produced after the experiments have been performed is unlikely to be too useful.

Theory, Evolution, and Games Group

I have an awkward relationship with mathematical oncology, mostly because oncology has an awkward relationship with math. Although I was vaguely familiar that evolutionary game theory (EGT) could be used in cancer research, mostly through Axelrod et al. (2006), I never planned to work on cancer. I wasn’t eager to enter the field because I couldn’t see how heuristic models could be of use in medicine; I thought only insilications could be useful, but EGT was not at a level of sophistication where it could build predictive models. I worried that selling non-predictive models as advice for treatment would only cause harm. However, the internet being the place it is, I ended up running into David Basanta — one of the major advocates of EGT in oncology — and Jacob Scott on twitter. After looking through some of the literature, I realized that most of experimental cancer research was more…

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