Lorentz Center - Multiscale Systems Biology of Cancer from 12 Nov 2012 through 16 Nov 2012
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    Multiscale Systems Biology of Cancer
    from 12 Nov 2012 through 16 Nov 2012


Description & aim

In order to properly understand and control any biomedical system, including cancer, it is key to analyze the interactions between biological levels of organization: molecules, cells, organs. Molecular networks regulate the behavior of cells, cells organize into tissues and organs, which together form the whole body. What happens at the organ level, affects the molecules, and vice versa.

Although cancer is typically seen as a disease of the genes, in fact many phenomena, including tumor plasticity, metastasis, and relapses after therapies, can only be understood if we look beyond the molecules, e.g. at individual cell behavior, cell-cell competition, cell-stroma interactions, and metabolism. Collaborations between experimental and computational biologists are key to unraveling these multilevel interplays. To this end, experimental and computational researchers working at different ends of the multiscale spectrum will come together at this Lorentz workshop: the molecular level, the cellular and tissue level, and the physiological level.

The structure of the workshop will entice participants to discuss how their work contributes to bridging subsequent scales, and how their scale of interest interacts with the small and larger scales. We expect this will be thought provoking, because many computational and experimental biologists are rarely exposed to work at scales of biological organization above or below the focus of their research.  Because they are experienced in similar computational challenges, we have also invited people from relevant fields in computational chemistry and computational science, e.g. molecular dynamics, and tissue biomechanics. Also, we have invited developers of software packages to contribute to the practical issues of multiscale modeling and simulation, and to give informal, hand-on tutorials.

The workshop will center on plenary discussions on how to couple different spatial and time scales from experimental, computational, and philosophical viewpoints. At the end of this workshop, we aim to have encouraged participants to think “out of their scale” such that they will apply this in their research.

The workshop will be a success if:

  • Computational and experimental researchers have developed clear ideas on how to position their own scale of interest relative to the other scales, a reflect the challenge for embedding their own scales within the larger and smaller scales
  • ideas on how to deal with the diverse problems of bridging scales are shared between experts for different applications
  • selected biomedical researchers will (continue to) apply multiscale models in their research and new collaborations are set up to this end
  • Software tools for multiscale modeling are disseminated and exchanged between groups, initiating novel, collaborative multiscale modeling software platforms
  • Software standards for interfacing biomedical models at different scales are shared or new initiatives have been set up where standards do not yet exist