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2009 Events


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Workshop on Evolution: Foundations, Fundamentals, and Disease
December 8-10, 2009
Hong Kong

This Workshop will address fundamental issues of evolution from a theoretical and experimental perspective.

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The American Society for Cell Biology Annual Meeting
December 5, 2009
San Diego, CA
Session Title: Cancer Cell Evolution: Is it Survival of the Fittest?
Anna Maria Calcagno, Project Manager, Physical Science-Oncology Centers Program, National Cancer Institute, NIH
Jerry S. H. Lee, Special Assistant to the NCI Deputy Director, National Cancer Institute, NIH
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NCI Launches Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers to Develop New Fields of Cancer Research

October 26, 2009

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded multiple institutional grants to establish twelve Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers (PS-OC) as part of its Physical Sciences in Oncology initiative to better understand the physical laws and principles that shape and govern the emergence and behavior of cancer. The goal of the five year initiative is to engage trans-disciplinary scientific teams from fields of physics, mathematics, chemistry and engineering to examine new, non-traditional approaches to cancer research. Researchers will explore the physical laws and principles of cancer; evolution and evolutionary theory of cancer; information coding, decoding, transfer and translation in cancer; and de-convoluting cancer’s complexity. These ongoing efforts will enable experts to explore new and innovative approaches to better understand, diagnose, treat, and control cancer.

"I truly believe the initiative's objective of applying physical sciences and engineering perspectives and principles to cancer will lead to paradigm-shifting science toward understanding and, ultimately, treating the disease," said Larry Nagahara, Ph.D., NCI PS-OC program director. "I'm very excited with the team of world-class researchers assembled in these centers and that they will be working together as a collaborative network."

The PS-OCs will serve as focal points of a network that span across the United States and include:

  • Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
  • H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Tampa, Fla.
  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.
  • Massachusetts Institutes of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, N.Y.
  • Northwestern University, Chicago, Ill.
  • Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.
  • Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, Calif.
  • University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, Calif.
  • University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas

Each of the awarded PS-OCs have convened several groups of experts that, individually and together, will support and nurture a trans-disciplinary environment and promote research that: (1) originates and tests novel, non-traditional physical-sciences based approaches to understand and control cancer; (2) generates independent sets of physical measurements and integrates them with existing knowledge of cancer; and (3) develops and evaluates approaches from the physical sciences to provide a comprehensive and dynamic picture of cancer.

Ultimately, through coordinated development and testing of novel approaches to studying the cancer processes, the network of PS-OCs are expected to generate new bodies of knowledge, in order to identify and define critical aspects of physics, chemistry, and engineering that operate at all levels in cancer processes.

NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research (RFA-OD-09-003)
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has received new funds for Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010 as part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). The NIH has designated at least $200 million in FYs 2009 - 2010 for a new initiative called the NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research. This new program will support research on topic areas that address specific scientific and health research challenges in biomedical and behavioral research that would benefit from significant 2-year jumpstart funds.

Board on Physics and Astronomy
April 24-25, 2009
The National Academies
Presentation: Collaboration of the Physical and Life Sciences: NCI Physical Sciences
Oncology Centers. Speakers: Drs. Anna Barker, Larry Nagahara, and Jerry Lee
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Workshop: Vision for Research and Development in Simulation-Based Engineering and Science in the Next Decade
April 22-23, 2009
National Academy of Sciences Building
Simulation-Based Engineering and Science (SBE&S) is a key element underpinning future progress in science and technology, as has been identified in numerous government, national academy, and other reports. This workshop is designed to bring together stakeholders in SBE&S from academia, government agencies, and industry to develop a community-driven report on the future of SBE&S research in the United States.
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The Extraordinary Challenges and Opportunities Facing Cancer Research
NCI Cancer Bulletin
April 21, 2009
This Director's Update column provides an abridged version of the remarks delivered by NCI Director Dr. John E. Niederhuber on Monday, April 20, at the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Denver. The announcement to accelerate cancer research outlined NCI's signature projects, including the network of NCI-supported physical sciences-oncology centers that will foster a team science environment that incubates and tests novel cancer concepts by studying and sometimes challenging accepted scientific dogma. These new centers will interface exceptionally well with NCI's successful centers in nanobiology, proteomics, and systems biology.

National Cancer Institute's Plan to Accelerate Cancer Research Announced
NIH News
April 20, 2009
At the American Association for Cancer Research 100th Annual Meeting 2009 in Denver, NCI Director John E. Niederhuber, M.D., announced major details, such as funding more grants, the development of a platform for personalized cancer care, and an accelerated cancer genetics program that will move cancer research forward in this new economic environment. Among plans to strengthen cancer research include a new network of Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers to explore new and innovative approaches to better understanding and controlling cancer through the convergence of the physical sciences with cancer biology.

Oncology and the Physical Sciences Converge
NCI Cancer Bulletin
November 4, 2008
Guest Update by Dr. Anna Barker
In this article, Dr. Anna Barker reveals how oncology and the physical sciences come together to identify the promising new research questions and strategies in cancer research.

NCI's Big Plans for Its Big Stimulus
Science Magazine - Science Insider
April 20, 2009
With the National Institutes of Health receiving a $10.4 billion windfall thanks to the economic stimulus package, all eyes are on the agency to see how the money will transform biomedical research in the next 2 years. John Niederhuber, who directs the National Cancer Institute, said in the 2009 fiscal year, NCI is pushing harder into translational medicine with initiatives including the creation of a network of "physical sciences-oncology centers" to bring together nanobiology, proteomics, and systems biology.

The Next Innovation Revolution (Editorial)
Science Magazine
February 27, 2009
U.S. federal investments in basic research transformed life and commerce in the 20th century. These advances and more grew out of the convergence between engineering and the early 20th-century discoveries in the physical sciences. The United States can anticipate comparable world-changing innovations in the 21st century if we adapt our education and research funding strategies to capitalize on new opportunities emerging at the convergence of the life sciences with the physical sciences and engineering.

Darwin at 200 and the evolving cancer fight
Philadelphia Inquirer
February 12, 2009
Evolution may still provoke controversy in some classrooms, but in the laboratory, Charles Darwin's theories are propelling new research. As the world celebrates his 200th birthday today, researchers are using the evolutionary prism to understand not a species, but a disease: cancer. "Evolution offers a higher-level construct to think about the disease and begin to structure new approaches to controlling it," said Anna Barker, deputy director of the National Cancer Institute.

Physics, math provide clues to unraveling cancer
Eureka! Science News - Biology & Nature
January 30, 2009
Biology exists in a physical world. That's a fact cancer researchers are beginning to recognize as they look at concepts of physics and mathematics in their efforts to better understand how cancer develops -- and how to stop it. The movement, led by researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, has come to a head with a new section in one of the top cancer research journals and a new grant program from the National Cancer Institute.