Cancer is a dynamic complex multiscale system that can only truly be understood via the integration of theory and experiments. The goal of the IMO is to use such an integrated approach to better understand, predict and treat cancer.
2015 HIP IMO alumnus Pranav Warman and mentor David Basanta submitted their joint work for peer review.
>> Manuscript preprint
Purpose: HIP IMO is an Integrated Mathematical Oncology centric internship program that delivers interdisciplinary team science research experiences for high school students aged 16 or older by the time of the internship . This mentored training program is designed for motivated aspiring scientists to help prepare them for interdisciplinary cancer research careers. Working under the direction and guidance of IMO. faculty/scientist mentors, interns are involved in activities designed to foster the development of life-long research skills.
Format: HIP–IMO provides unpaid science project mentorship consisting of 8 weeks of intensive research study with some of the nation’s leading scientists at the interface between mathematics, cancer biology and clinical research. Students will be involved in ongoing research projects in the Department of Integrated Mathematical Oncology, at the Moffitt Cancer Center Magnolia campus, in a designated theoretical research group. Program admittance requires a completed application accompanied by at least one recommendation letter from a teacher.
There is no cost associated with the program. We are unable to provide scholarships for this training opportunity. Students must make their own travel and housing arrangements if needed. The program will run June 5 - July 28, 2017, daily from 10am - 4pm in the Stabile Research Building of Moffitt Cancer Center, on campus of the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL.
The intern will (i) collaborate with an assigned mentor to create a research project with achievable goals in the time allotted; (ii) gain familiarity with standard methodologies and in a safe environment; (iii) participate in scheduled lab meetings; (iv) acquire necessary data through experimentation, computation, surveys or other means; (v) document findings in an appropriate format (laboratory journal, audiovisual recording or digital databases); (vi) review and discuss findings with research mentors, draw conclusions and make new plans; (vii) gain oral presentation experience by designing and delivering multiple presentations to department members and guests at departmental meetings as well as a final 20 minutes presentation at the annual research day with invited family members and teachers; and (viii) write a three-page scientific report at the end of the program.
Safety: For safety and security concerns, all onsite HIP–IMO interns are subjected to a drug screen, a background check and a tuberculosis test (TB). HIP–IMO interns will also be required to complete an online orientation and attend a Laboratory Research Operations Orientation. Unfortunately, HIP–IMO does currently not provide a stipend and is not able to fund housing. Out-of-area-interns must make their own living arrangements.
The IMO department: IMO faculty consists of internationally renowned cancer researchers and mathematical modelers. The focus of all IMO research groups is to apply physical, mathematical and mechanical principles to cancer biology to decipher fisrt order principles of tumor growth that can be exploited for novel cancer treatments. Department chair Sandy Anderson has co-authored the most-cited mathematical modeling of angiogensis paper and has pioneered the hybrid continuous-discrete modeling technique that combines individual-based models with continuous differential equations.
HIP IMO mentors are internationally renowned cancer researchers and mathematical modelers. The focus of all IMO research groups is to apply physical, mathematical and mechanical principles to cancer biology to decipher fisrt order principles of tumor growth that can be exploited for novel cancer treatments. Department chair Sandy Anderson has co-authored the most-cited mathematical modeling of angiogensis paper and has pioneered the hybrid continuous-discrete modeling technique that combines individual-based models with continuous differential equations. The research interests in his lab are centered around the tumor microenvironment and understanding their interactions as an ecological system. David Basanta is a game theorist with expertise in evolutionary cancer dynamcis. His lab is interested in the tumor microenviroment, and evolutionary games explaining tumor progression and treatment response. Heiko Enderling is an expert on cancer stem cells and tumor dormancy, and the response of tumors to radiation and immunotherapy. His lab is interested in all aspects of tumor growth and treatment. Bob Gatenby, chair of the Radiology department at Moffitt Cancer Center, has pioneered the development of spatial models of cancer invasion and is renowned for his work on tumor acidity and the Warburg effect. His lab is interested in tumor imaging, evolution, cancer as an ecosystem, and adaptive therapy. Kasia Rejniak uses fluid dynamics techniques and bio-mechanical agent-based modeling to study the transition from tissue homeostasis to carcinogenesis, and to anti-cancer treatments. Her lab is interested in mechano-pharmacodynamics and tumor mechano-transduction. Ariosto Silva is developing mathematical models and runs a wet lab to calibrate and validate his models. He is primarily intersted in simulating multiple myeloma therapy.
To understand a complex multiscale nature of cancer, in which genetic mutations occurring at a subcellular level manifest themselves as functional changes at the cellular and tissue scale, mathematical and computational models are needed that are capable of integrating simulataneously multiple factors influencing tumor progression. Such computational approaches give the unique opportunity of simulating various scenarios of tumor emergence and growth, as well as different protocols of chemo- and radiotherapy over a wide range of parameters values that is not always possible in the laboratory.
This modeling approach allows one to represent each normal, tumor and/or stromal cell as an individual entity with independently regulated cell life processes, such as cell metabolism, proliferation, death or motility, and individually defined changes in cell phenotype, genotype and cell shape. The individual cell based models incorporate different biological scales: from genes and proteins to cell growth and migration, to tissue turnover and the escape from tissue homeostasis, to tumor invasion of the surrounding microenvironment and metastatic collonisation of distant tissues. These models can be parametrized with experimental and clinical data and can be used to carry 2D and 3D simulations of tumor growth and treatment.
Evolutionary dynamics play a big role in explaining cancer progression. Inside a tumour there are all the ingredients of an ecosystem with several cell populations competing for the limited nutrients, resources and space. Two mathematical tools: Game Theory and Cellular Automata are exceedingly useful to explore how the interaction between cells and between them and the environment influence tumour progression. Since tumour cells are known to acquire a number of different phenotypes in the path from cancer initiation to malignancy, evolutionary game theory can be a powerful tool in which to study the emergence of different tumour phenotypes with increasing degrees of malignancy, the scenarios that lead to benign tumours and the effects of therapies on tumour progression dynamics.
The maintenance of normal tissue architecture and mechanisms leading to the initiation of tumor growth can be investigated using bio-mechanical models in which cells are fully deformable and equipped with cell membrane receptors that are used by the cells to sense cues from the microenvironment and to communicate with other cells, such as the IBCell model. This approach can be used to accurately model structures of various tissues, such as epithelial ducts, various patterns of ductal carcinoma in situ, stratified epithelia of the skin, as well as the growth of solid tumors and clonal tumor expansion. The model can be adjusted to represent distinct biomechanical properties of the tissue under consideration and to include distinct biochemical properties of the host cells.
Cancer Biology 101 introduction lecture
Intense mathematics and computer research
Socializing in the IMO collaboratorium
Final public presentation with parents
Mentoring by dedicated scientists
Hands-on computer programming tutorial
Interested students aged 16 or older by the time of the internship should download an application form . The completed application with an accompanying letter of support from a teacher should be emailed by March 1st of the internship year to firstname.lastname@example.org. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by end of March.