Upcoming Workshop

IMO Workshop 8: Evolutionary Therapy

Date: Sunday, 6PM, 28th October 2018 - Friday 2PM, 2rd November 2018


Speed dating: SRB Atrium, 6PM 28th October.

Introductory presentation: SRB Murphey, 9AM 29th October.

Working group sessions: Various rooms, 29th October - 1st November.

Closing presentations: SRB Murphey, 9AM 2nd November

Contact: Karolyn.Paris@moffitt.org (IMO Department Assistant Denae Paris)


The IMO workshop is designed to motivate and facilitate a hands-on modeling experience focused on evolutionary therapy.  The workshop is comprised of both an educational event and competition and divides participants into multiple teams combining clinical, experimental and theoretical members. These teams integrate their energies to develop and implement a mathematical model focussed on evolutionary therapies for cancer. The teams are expected to come up with a model, solve it and give a presentation all within 4.5 intense days.

As always we will have several independent judges to view both the specific aims and the closing presentations to decide the winning team. To facilitate integration and motivate participation we are offering an Amazon gift voucher to active participants of the winning team and to the runner up team. In addition, to facilitate further development of the winning project we are offering a $50K pilot grant (generously funded by Moffitt Cancer Center) to the leaders of the winning team.

As with last years workshop there will be a "speed dating for scientists" to break the ice among diverse group of participants on the 28th. The opening presentation on the 29th will summarise what is expected of the teams and serve to motivate the subsequent hands on model development sessions. We plan to have an seperate poster session on the evening of the 29th to allow participants to showcase their own research. Participation in the workshop requires registration in order to generate the teams and give numbers for the food and beverages we are providing throughout the workshop. 

We are offering deluxe travel awards for external participation!!! Each award will cover flight + accommodation + meals for up to 6 nights and allow for both national and international scientists to participate in this unique hands on educational event. If you are either a PhD student, Postdoctoral student or junioir faculty with a passion for research and a desire to better understand cancer resistance as well as how to build integrated models then please apply during the registration process. Please note: the travel awards are extremely limited and will be offered on a competitive basis, application does not gaurantee participation. If you are able to cover your own expenses, please indicate this during the registration process.







Despite major advances in cancer therapies, most metastatic cancers remain fatal because tumor cells have a remarkable capacity to evolve drug resistance, both through genetic and non-genetic mechanisms. A common maxim in cancer treatment is to “hit hard and fast” through dose-dense strategies that administer the highest possible drug dose in the shortest possible time period. The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) principle has been the standard-of-care for cancer treatment, however, it has not resulted in consistent cures in patients with disseminated cancers. An evolutionary flaw in this MTD strategy is the assumption that resistant populations are not present prior to therapy. It is now clear that cancer cells can be insensitive even to treatments that they have never encountered before. Therefore, MTD therapy that is designed to kill as many cancer cells as possible, although intuitively appealing, may be evolutionarily unwise. When high doses of drug are applied continuously, competitive release allows rapid emergence of resistant populations because of the combination of intense selection pressure and elimination of all potential “sensitive” competitors. An approach we have pioneered at Moffit is to deliver the minimum effective dose (MED) by only treating a subset of the tumor, ensuring that a drug-sensitive population is left behind when treatment stops, and allowing it to reestablish. Then, through repeated cycles of treatment, the tumor is kept under control for extended periods of time. The timing of each treatment will be specific to each cancer patient; how they respond to the initial treatment will dictate when the current treatment should stop and when the next round should begin. We have termed this approach “adaptive therapy”, where the dose and timing are adapted to each individual patient’s cancer. Adaptive therapy is a subset of a larger class of evolutionary-enlightened therapeutic approaches that embrace evolutionary principles to try and stay one step ahead of the complex evolving system that is cancer.







Mehdi Damaghi, PhD (co-leader Team Orange), during group presentations, IMO Workshop 2017



Annual PSOC Interdisciplinary, Interactive WORKshop

The PSOC Annual Workshop divides participants into small teams (10-15 members each) integrating clinical, biomedical and data scientists that will focus their energies on developing PI-motivated specific mathematical model modules that will accelerate the translation of basic science projects into clinical trials. Although the primary thrust of the workshop is the interdisciplinary training aspect, the workshops and teams may ultimately become think tanks for new clinical trials. The first day of the workshop is dedicated to introductory presentations for each team and the morning of the final day is dedicated to presentations and judging.

 Within each team, the clinician scientists will present and educate the group about disease specific clinical presentation and treatment options they are interested in and problems they face; biologists share their knowledge and experimental expertise that can be applied to understand the biology behind the clinical problems; and physicists and mathematicians educate the team about appropriate quantitative methods that can be deployed to decipher the mechanistic underpinnings of the disease dynamics and lead the model implementation and solution. The teams are expected to develop a quantitative model, find appropriate literature and estimates for parameter values, solve the model and give a scientific presentation to all workshop participants within 4.5 intense days.




The learning objectives of the workshop include:

  • to introduce quantitative concepts and the contribution of physical sciences in oncology to the next generation of cancer biologists and clinicians

  • to teach fundamental cancer biology to quantitative scientists

  • to develop novel quantitative models fully integrating physical and oncological sciences to accelerate the translation of promising basic science projects into clinical trials

  • to learn as interdisciplinary teams how to synergize knowledge to concisely define a project, study the background and significance of that project, define applicable techniques to answer a posed question, and prepare the central hypothesis and specific aims for a competitive grant proposal – all under the mentorship of eminent researchers and passionate educators

  • to learn to present and defend a scientific project proposal in front of peers and a jury of scientific leaders and patients, who will jointly award a Moffitt-funded pilot grant to the most integrated team and most promising project proposal.



Past workshop participants’ feedback on the successful training aspect of the established workshop team format


Highlights from IMO Workshop 6: Resistance