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Speaker: Jasmine Foo (Associate Professor, School of Mathematics, University of Minnesota)

Abstract: It has been observed experimentally that epigenetic phenomena can induce temporary or reversible drug-resistant phenotypes in cancer cell populations.  For example, changes in methylation status of DNA repair genes may impact the responsiveness of cells to chemotherapies.  Although these phenomena may be transient, they can have a profound impact on the genetic evolution of a tumor.  Indeed, short-term adaptations may allow lineages to survive therapy until more permanent genetic resistance mechanisms can be established.   In this talk I will propose some mathematical models (from the population dynamics viewpoint) of the co-evolutionary process between the genome and epigenome, and discuss how this interaction influences overall tumor response to therapy.  Much of the talk will be conducted within the specific setting of understanding chemotherapy resistance in glioblastoma multiforme.  (joint work with K. Storey, K. Leder, and E. Gunnarsson)