Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute ‘Towards a Quantitative, Predictive Theory of Tumor Growth, Metabolic Rate and Vascular Structure’

Speaker: Geoffrey West, PhD. is a theoretical physicist whose primary interests have been in fundamental questions in physics, especially those concerning the elementary particles, their interactions and cosmological implications. West served as SFI President from July 2005 through July 2009. Prior to joining the Santa Fe Institute as a Distinguished Professor in 2003, he was the leader, and founder, of the high energy physics group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he is one of only approximately ten Senior Fellows. His long-term fascination in general scaling phenomena evolved into a highly productive collaboration on the origin of universal scaling laws that pervade biology from the molecular genomic scale up through mitochondria and cells to whole organisms and ecosystems. This led to the development of realistic quantitative models for the structural and functional design of organisms based on underlying universal principles. This work, begun at the Institute, has received much attention in both the scientific and popular press, and provides a framework for quantitative understanding of problems ranging from fundamental issues in biology (such as cell size, growth, metabolic rate, DNA nucleotide substitution rates, and the structure and dynamics of ecosystems) to questions at the forefront of medical research (such as aging, sleep, and cancer). Among his current interests is the extension of these ideas to understand quantitatively the structure and dynamics of social organizations, such as cities and corporations, including the relationships between economies of scale, growth, innovation and wealth creation and their implications for long-term survivability and sustainability.

Location: Biodesign Auditorium

Web Cast: View Web Cast Video

Date & Time: January 12, 2012 12:00 p.m.

Title: Towards a Quantitative, Predictive Theory of Tumor Growth, Metabolic Rate and Vascular Structure

Abstract: A conceptual framework successfully developed for quantitatively understanding and predicting many physiological and dynamical properties of mammals and plants, including metabolic rates, ontogenetic growth trajectories and vascular structure, is extended to tumors. The theory presumes that life at all scales from intra- to multi-cellular levels is sustained by space-filling, fractal-like, hierarchical branching networks whose “universal” geometric and dynamical properties provide a mathematical framework that captures the essential features of these diverse systems. When applied to tumors (and their interface with host tissue) the theory yields extensive quantitative predictions for many of their properties, including growth rates, metabolic rates, degree of necrosis, blood flow rates, capillary density and vessel sizes, in good agreement with data. In addition, it shows how these properties depend on both tumor and host size thereby explaining why similar tumors grow systematically slower and occur less frequently in larger animals, shedding light on Peto’s paradox. The role of damage (and consequent entropy production) due to dissipative forces in host networks as a generator of tumors and its relationship to aging, mortality and sleep will be explored. Possible implications for potential therapeutic strategies will be discussed.

Thank you and if you have questions please contact Amanda Wilber! And don’t forget, coffee will be served!

Amanda Wilber, Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology

Arizona State University | P.O. Box 871504 | Tempe, AZ 85287

480.965.3860 | Fax: 480.965.6362
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