Viral Dynamics and Cancer: Modeling Oncogenic and Oncolytic Viruses (15w5095)

Arriving in Oaxaca, Mexico Sunday, August 2 and departing Friday August 7, 2015


(Pennsylvania State University)

(University of Ottawa)

(University of Michigan)

(University of Alberta)


The proposed workshop will bring together internationally recognized experts working at the interface of viral dynamics and cancer. Our goal is to facilitate the use of mathematical modeling and simulation to advance the understanding of cancer-causing (oncogenic) natural viruses, and the application of cancer-killing (oncolytic) viruses as biopharmaceutical agents.

Oncogenic and oncolytic virus research is inherently interdisciplinary and involves the generation of data at multiple scales ranging from the infection of individual cells, cancerous tumour formation, to the viral spreading on a global scale. Such multi-scale systems can only be understood and analyzed in depth with the aid of mathematical and computational models. And yet in spite of the insight theoretical investigations can bring, there are very few models at the interface of viral dynamics and cancer.

The workshop aims to eliminate barriers that currently impede oncogenic and oncolytic virus dynamics research, particularly those caused by the differences in culture, communication and objectives among the many disciplines involved.

Given the significance of the cancer-viruses interactions to human health, and the need for the development of theory and models to investigate such interactions at multiple levels, we will bring together leading mathematical modelers, epidemiologists, biologists and clinical scientists working at the interface of the cancer and viral worlds.

Our main goals are to:

• Establish an overview of current trends and outstanding issues in experimental and theoretical oncolytic and oncogenic virus research,

• Identify the barriers that need to be overcome for future research to benefit from theory, modeling, and experiment, and

• Foster the opportunity for the creation of new interdisciplinary collaborations.

Examples of concrete questions that we propose to discuss include:

• How do the dynamics of viral transmission at the population level affect the cancer incidence and mortality trends?

• How can modeling help elucidate the mechanisms of viral oncogenesis, the dynamics of carcinogenesis, and predict cancer risk?

• How does spatial tissue organization affect tumor growth and oncolytic viral dynamics?

• How do viruses disrupt the dynamics of cell proliferation and the associated regulatory pathways?

• How does the dynamics of cancer evolution affect the efficacy of oncolytic therapies?

To meet these goals our workshop will include activities aimed at stimulating discussion:

• Talks: Our confirmed participant list includes leading experts from a wide variety of disciplines. We anticipate a series of engaging talks on recent developments in both oncolytic and oncogenic viruses from both biological and mathematical modeling perspectives.

• Focused discussions: We plan to hold focused discussions on topics pertinent to the workshop themes, such as the concrete questions listed above.

• Breakout sessions: In smaller, still cross-disciplinary groups, more pointed research questions - solicited from participants before the meeting - will be discussed. Groups will be asked to (i) clearly delineate the problem, identifying associated challenges and areas where modeling can bring insight, and (ii) propose a mathematical modeling approach to investigate the problem. Results of the sessions will be presented on the last day of the meeting.

We believe that this workshop will have a significant and lasting impact by facilitating advancement in the interdisciplinary research that is necessary to address these and a number of other key medical and scientific questions.