School of Mathematics

Kevin Leder

A spatial model of cancer initiation

I will discuss a stochastic model of mutation accumulation and spread in a spatially-structured population.  This situation arises in a variety of ecological and biological problems, including the process of cancer initiation from healthy tissue.  Cancer arises via the accumulation of mutations to the genetic code.  Although many mathematical models of cancer initiation have assumed `perfect mixing' or spatial homogeneity, solid tumors often initiate from tissues with well-regulated spatial architecture and dynamics. Here, we make a thorough study of this stochastic model to investigate the impact of a spatial tissue structure on the temporal dynamics and patterns of mutation accumulation. As an application we look at the phenomena of the cancer field effect in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The talk is based on joint work with R. Durrett (Duke), J. Foo (Minnesota) and M. Ryser (Duke).