Moriah Magcalas , Applied Mathematics, University of Waterloo
Mathematical and experimental studies of tumour heterogeneity and plasticity
The goal of this research project is to integrate mathematical modeling and experimental studies to gain a better understanding of cancer cell heterogeneity and plasticity. The modeling aspect will include cellular automata simulations, ODEs, and stochastic approaches; while the experimental studies will consist of cancer cell growth and mammosphere formation assay experiments. To date, we have extended a hierarchy model and a two-compartment model previously developed by Turner and Kohandel, for the so called cancer stem cell hypothesis, to include spatial effects. Available experimental data has been used to estimate the model parameters, and we have performed sensitivity analysis on each of these models to identify the key parameters. We plan to perform our own experimental studies on breast cancer cell lines to collect data that will be used to validate these mathematical models. Then, the validated models will be used to predict tumour growth and its heterogeneous populations in different microenvironmental conditions.