Mathematical modeling in cancer biology: from observation to theory and back

The following topics will be covered in this seminar:

  • Thinking like a modeler: how to translate biology into mathematical equations

  • Introduction to mathematical modeling of cancer as an ecosystem

  • Introduction to mathematical modeling of cancer-immune interaction in the framework of predator-prey

  • Introduction to mathematical modeling of heterogeneous populations and its applications to describing and predicting cancer dynamics

  • Introduction of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics: how do you describe the behavior of drugs using systems of differential equations

  • Introduction to quantitative systems pharmacology (QSP): bringing together pieces of the puzzle

    Reading material necessary for the seminar will be provided by the instructor.


instructor: Irina kareva, Merck Serono


Dr. Irina Kareva is a theoretical biologist and the primary focus of her research involves using mathematical modeling to study cancer as an evolving ecosystem within the human body where heterogeneous populations of cancer cells compete for limited resources (i.e., oxygen and glucose), cooperate with each other to fight off predators (the immune system), and disperse and migrate (metastases). Thinking about the disease from an ecological perspective has the power to change how we approach cancer treatment. Dr. Kareva is a Senior Scientist in Simulation and Modeling at Merck Serono, where she develops quantitative systems pharmacology (QSP) models to understand and predict the dynamics of drugs in the fields of oncology, immuno-oncology and immunology. In 2017 Dr. Kareva gave a TED talk (see video below) on using mathematical modeling for biological research. Dr. Kareva's book Understanding Cancer from a Systems Biology Point of View: from Observation to Theory and Back was published by Elsevier in 2018.