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International Darwin Day

"Cancer and Evolution"

1:30PM – 2PM ISE Lab Room 410

John R. Jungck, Professor of Biological Sciences and Mathematical Sciences, and Director, Interdisciplinary Sciences Learning Laboratories

“Cancer and Evolution”

Abstract: Just as the overuse of antibiotics, pesticides, and herbicides has led to the evolution of resistance to each of them, so it is with cancer chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the “War on Cancer” with the use of chemotherapy has ignored that the remission after treatment leads to death of many cancer patients due to evolution of resistance to the chemotherapeutic chemical. The progression of cancer satisfies all three criteria of an evolutionary process: VARIATION: cells mutate and vary over the course of their rapid proliferation, INHERITANCE: genes are transmitted from parent cells to progeny cells; and, SELECTION: cancer cells are under selective pressure of the chemotherapeutic chemical as well as competing with one another for nutrients, oxygen, space, antibodies, etc. Recently, we have been able to build phylogenetic trees of cancer cell lines as they evolve over the course of tumorigenesis. With advance in gene sequencing technologies, evolutionary medicine hopes to be able to better detect cancer mutations occurring in individuals that may lead to personalized treatments that may not kill off cancers but control the sufficiently that our immune systems better keep than in check, that the very harmful symptoms that many patients experience due to harsh treatments with chemotherapy can be diminished or avoided, and change the prognosis for much longer patient survival.Bio: Professor Jungck is the Director of the Interdisciplinary Science Learning Laboratories at the University of Delaware. He is a tenured Professor of Biological Sciences and holds joint appointments in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, the Bioinformatics/Computational Biology Program, and the Delaware Environmental Institute. He is the former Editor of Biology International, Bioscene: Journal of College Biology Teaching, and the American Biology Teacher. He currently serves on the Editorial Boards of several journals including the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, Evolutionary Bioinformatics, the American Journal of Undergraduate Research, and several others. He has also been the Editor of a special issue of Mathematical Modelling of Natural Phenomena and CBE Life Science Education on Bio 201. He is the immediate past Vice President of the International Union of Biological Sciences, immediate past President of the IUBS Commission on Biology Education, and former Chairperson of the U. S. National Academy of Science’s National Committee of IUBS. His international commitments include long- term relations with NECTEC in Thailand, the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Evolution and Ecology in New Zealand, and BIOMAT – a consortium of South American mathematical biologists. He is the founder of the BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium ( His awards/honors/offices include AAAS Fellow, Honorary Doctorate from the University of Minnesota, ASCB Bruce Alberts Award, AIBS Education Award, EDUCOM Educational software, SICB John A. Moore Lectureship, former Chairperson of the Education Committee of the Society for Mathematical Biology, former president of the Association of College and University Biology Educators, former president of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi chapters, and a Fulbright Scholar in Thailand.

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International Darwin Day
  • Interdisciplinary Science Learning Laboratories
  • 221 Academy Street, Suite 402
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-6400