Emotional science Some people might think that scientists are extremely rational people lacking emotions. Some bouts of manic laughter asides think of them as some version of vulcans? Not quite the truth. For a theoretical scientist like Andrei Linde, the experimental confirmation of his hypothesis can be quite emotional.
Around one in three of us will be diagnosed with cancer during our lifetime. But research over the last couple of decades has led some researchers to the uncomfortable conclusion that as we age perhaps all of us develop hidden, or ‘covert’, cancer.
This is the subject of an interesting review published in Nature Reviews Cancer by Professor Mel Greaves here at The Institute of Cancer Research in London. By defining ‘covert’ cancer as “a [growth] or tumour that is considered to be either malignant [or a] recognised precursor to malignant cancer”, Professor Greaves refers to many intriguing studies that have shown that many people have cancer without knowing they have it.
Many of these are post mortem studies, in which researchers look for cancer in the bodies of people who have died of accidental or non-cancerous causes. These studies have shown that pre-malignant lesions – essentially tumours that have…
Scientists do not come from Vulcan Sometimes I struggle to understand how people think of scientists. Sometimes we are selfless heroes, more often we are evil geniuses, but usually just not regular humans with feelings and emotions. Scientists are passionate about what we do and we invest emotionally in our research so of course we […]
But it’s about me, or more precisely about a paper that Sandy Anderson and myself published last year about our view of cancer as an ecosystem. While doing research on all the work and ideas (more the latter than the former) on the view of cancer as part of an ecosystem I decided to take a look at what Google (well, to be precise, DuckDuckGo) had to say about the topic.
The first is this piece by Melina Gyparaki where she hightlights the role of game theory as a tool in which to study cancer and focuses on how indiscrimenately killing tumour cells is unlikely to constitute a long term solution to the disease (idea that we learned from people like Moffitt’s Bob Gatenby but is also a direct consequence of using game theory as a modelling tool).
Interestingly our work was also featured in the Smithsonian magazine. Racher Nuwer, the author, focuses on the idea that, given the complexity of cancer as an ecosystem, mathematical and computational models that integrate several scales of data are likely to be the best approach.
Thirdly, what I can only pressume to be the blog for the department of computer science at Darmouth, Erin O’Neil summarises these results to a computer science audience.
Finally I found out that renown cancer researcher Ken Pienta, from Johns Hopkins University, has a blog where he has written about his view of metastases as something that could be better seen as an invasive species trying to come to an existing ecosystem. That is something over which I have talked before and which you will probably see me writing about again.