Earlier this year, TEDMED took place in Washington DC, showcasing people doing innovative research in medicine. This year’s talks are now being loaded online, and today I was happy to see that cancer and evolution got their due. Franziska Michor of Harvard explained how the threat of cancer is a legacy of our evolution into multicellular animals, and how every case of cancer is a miniature unfolding of evolution within our own bodies. What makes Michor’s work particular exciting is that she is bringing the mathematical precision of population genetics and other aspects of evolution to the treatment of cancer.
I wrote about some of Michor’s work in my 2007 Scientific American article, “Evolved for Cancer?” (carlzimmer.com, sciam.com) I’ve also explored cancer evolution here on the Loom: “Inside Darwin’s Tumor” and “The Mere Existence of Whales.” And you can find lots of Michor’s papers as free pdf’s on her publication page.