Keystone Symposia

This meeting took place in 2005

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The Role of Microenvironment in Tumor Induction and Progression (J5)

Organizer(s) Mina Bissell, Ronald DePinho and Luis Parada
February 5—10, 2005
Fairmont Banff Springs • Banff, AB Canada
Abstract Deadline: Oct 5, 2004
Late Abstract Deadline:
Scholarship Deadline:
Early Registration Deadline: Dec 6, 2004

Sponsored by Abbott Laboratories

Summary of Meeting:
A shift has begun to take place in both the cancer research community and in funding agencies that support tumor biology as to the relative importance of microenvironmental control in differentiation and cancer. There is increased appreciation of the role of the microenvironment and "context" in both normal tissue function and cancer initiation and progression. Indeed, NCI has initiated an "extraordinary funding opportunity" program to extend its signatures of the cancer cell to its microenvironment ( An excerpt follows: "Six years ago, NCI established "Defining the Signatures of Cancer Cells"- Extraordinary Opportunity to promote research aimed at identifying and characterizing the full compendium of signature changes that occur within cancer cells. Now, as increasing evidence suggests that the host microenvironment plays a pivotal role in cancer development, we need to expand our effort to consider how the interaction of the cancer cell and microenvironment permits, and even encourages tumor development. Scientists pursuing this promising new scientific opportunity will read not only the signatures of cancer cells but also signatures of seemingly normal cells within the tumor microenvironment and signatures that reflect changes that occur as cancer cells interact with the host microenvironment." Thus, thinking of both normal and cancer cells in context and as part of a larger structural entity is an area ripe for a sea of change. However, the general understanding and appreciation of the complexity and the extent of the microenvironment's influence on tissue function and dysfunction is limited, and at times simplistic. To move the field in this area so that thoughtful and significant research could be accomplished would require an in-depth dialogue between the vast majority of cell and molecular biologists who concentrate on the molecules and the cells and those who have worked in the context of the tissue and the host. Nevertheless, an interesting aspect of these developments is that before the advent and the excitement of molecular biology in the 70s and 80s, there was a considerable amount of important work in this area, which now could lend itself to mechanistic scrutiny. This body of work needs to be rediscovered, sorted, and built upon. The goal of this meeting is not only to bring together past and the present research in this field, but also point the way to where we need to go. We will bring together a number of experts who have done pioneering work in this complex area, and some of the new talents to the field, and showcase recent exciting developments and chart a map for accelerating future exploration and interactions. We need to capture more brilliant minds to enter this area. In this meeting, we propose to unravel the excitement and the promise of the field.

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