Physics 828 Cancer Bio-Physics

Spring 2011

Instructor: Professor Wolfgang Losert

                    Rm 3359 AV Williams, 301-405-0629 




This 3 credit course aims to cover key biophysics, nonlinear dynamics, and complex systems concepts relevant to Cancer Research. 

Materials will be covered at a level accessible to graduate students in the physical sciences, mathematical sciences, or engineering.
The focus of the course will be the introduction of quantitative models and experiments that elucidate key physical principles in the context of current cancer research.   Current cancer research is introduced through guest lectures.

HOURS:  Monday 12.30-1.45pm  Lecture
               Monday 2pm-3.15pm  Guest Lecture or Discussion

Location:  Rm 1109 in the JMP building (may be changed after the start of the semester - stay tuned)


Description:  The bio-physics of cancer will be introduced in two parts.  Both parts are held on the same day to simplify participation by students who carry out research off-campus.

Part 1: 12.30pm-1.45pm:  Lecture:  covers relevant concepts in depth through lecture, example problems, and homework.
Part 2: 2pm-3.15pm:  Guest lecture and discussion: Guest lectures by biophysicists, cancer biologists, and doctors.  The guest lectures will introduce new physics tools or important cancer biology questions.  
1) Physical Principles and Homework Problems: 
        Physical Biology of the Cell
by Phillips, Kondev, and Theriot, Garland Scienc
e  ISBN-10: 0815341636

2) Introduction to Cell Biology:
        Lewin's Cells , 2nd edition by Cassimeris et al, Jones and Bartlett, ISBN

Tentative Schedule

Lecture Number
TOPIC 12.30pm-1.45pm - Quantitatve Cell Biology
Book 2pm-3.15pm   Applications to Cancer Research
Book/paper Speaker
24-Jan 1 INTRO Physics Perspective of the Cell
Cells, Ch 1,2 Physics Perspective on Cancer
"Hallmarks of cancer"
31-Jan 2 INTRO Basics of Quantitative Biology
Physical Biology Ch.1
Cancer Cell Biology Cell, Ch 17
7-Feb 3 CELL MECHANICS Cytoskeleton Cells Ch 11,12
Physical Biol, Ch10
Circulating Tumor Cells
Stuart Martin, UM Medical School Cancer Center
14-Feb 4 CELL MECHANICS the extracellular matrix Cell Ch 19 Transmigration

Helim Aranda Espinoza, BioE, UMD
21-Feb   MECHANICS/ SIGNALING  --class starts 2pm --
  class starts 2pm
Apoptosis and the Role of the Mitochondrial Outer Membrane
  Marco Colombini, Biology, UMD
28-Feb 5 MECHANICS/ SIGNALING Cell-Cell adhesion and activation Cells, Ch 18 T-cell activation
Eilon Sherman, NCI
7-Mar 6 MECHANICS/ SIGNALING Cell Migration and Signaling Physical Biology Ch13
Signal Relay
Carole Parent, NCI
14-Mar 7 MECHANICS/ SIGNALING Metastasis
Epithelial- to Mesenchymal Transition
Denise Montell, Johns Hopkins
21-Mar   Spring Break  ---  ---    ---
Physical Biology, Ch4.5 and 19.2 Cytokinesis through biochemical-mechanical feedback loops

Doug Robinson, Biology, Johns Hopkins
Nucleus and Choromosomes
Cells, Ch 9,10
Nuclear structure and Cancer

Jim McNally, NCI 
Gene Expression and Epigenetics

Controlling Gene Expression

18-Apr 11 COMPLEX SYSTEM Gene Networks Physical Biology, Ch19
Gene Networks in Cancer
Michelle Girvan, Physics, UMD
25-Apr 12 COMPLEX SYSTEM Population Dynamics

Student Presentations

Student Presentations

Genomic Instability

Thomas Ried (MD, NCI)
9-May 14
Student presentations
Immune System

R. Nussenblatt (MD, NIH) and  W.Lai (NIH)


Grading will be based in equal parts on the following three elements:

1) Two homeworks will include analytical calculations as well as numerical questions.

2) In class presentation:  Each Student will give one 15 min presentation on their end of semester project.  Since the presentations are due before the project reports, the presentation can focus on the background literature related to the semester project, or describe the work completed for the semester project.

3) End of semester written project report.  Students should introduce a research problem in cancer research, describe the relevance of the problem, and the physical science approach.  Proejcts should include numerical or analytical parts and analysis of available data.  

Suggested Student Topics:

Dormancy of Cancer
Seed and Soil hypothesis of cancer
Spatial Dynamics of the nucleus
Limits on gradient sensing
Individuality and heterogeneity
Ultrasensitivity - e.g. limits on gradient sensing
Robustness in Biological Networks
Cll Lineage Dynamics in Space and time

Last updated 4/8/2011 by wlosert