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Bird’s-eye view: CoB workshop on Cancer as a Microevolutionary Process

Posted by , on 15 March 2011

During the past week, a group of scientists followed in the footsteps of Winston Churchill and convened at the lovely Wilton Park in Sussex for a Company of Biologists Workshop to challenge central dogmas and provoke new ideas – this time in a quest to understand cancer as a microevolutionary process. The conference organisers – Dr. Gerard Evan, Dr. Doug Green and Dr. Karen Vousden – invited an excellent range of speakers from across the fields of cancer and evolution to join them for intense discussions on key outstanding questions, including: the search for effective cancer therapeutics, the role of stem cells in metastasis, the importance of the tumour microenvironment and the value of research in more diverse species across the breadth of eukaryotes (did you know that only 6 model organisms are commonly used to probe biological questions, yet there are 50 million species?!).

This Workshop was the fourth in a series organised by The Company of Biologists. The format of these meetings aims to divert from the traditional presentation of primary research findings and instead provide a unique discussion-based forum for the exchange of new ideas between experts from diverse disciplines. As the Editorial Intern on Journal of Cell Science, I attended to represent the journal, and was joined by members of the editorial team from another Company of Biologists journal, Disease Models & Mechanisms. Personally, I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to hear the new and thought-provoking ideas being exchanged across the conference room, during the delicious meals, and on into the evening in the library and the bar. I am sure that future collaborative projects will be spawned from this meeting, so keep your eye on the pages of JCS, DMM and the other journals published by The Company of Biologists to see how this interdisciplinary field develops.

If you have an idea for a ground-breaking biology-related workshop then please visit the Workshops website at for more details.

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