This is the third in a series of NCI "think tanks" that bring together leaders from the physical sciences with basic and clinical cancer researchers to explore approaches that may contribute to solving intractable problems that we face in understanding and controlling cancer. Although the conversations in the first meeting identified a large number of potential research opportunities, four major themes emerged for further exploration as follows: the "physics" of cancer (e.g., forces and mechanics, thermodynamics, gradients, etc.); evolution and evolutionary theory in cancer; information coding, transfer translation, and information theory in cancer; and the complexity of cancer.
Overall the meeting goals were to:
- Explore the concept of what "information" means in terms of the genetic code and its translation in cancer relative to context and certain specific aspects that characterize cancer.
- From the perspective of both the physical and biological sciences, determine the "state of the science" of information and information theory in terms of understanding cancer at all scales.
- Identify the major critical research questions in the state of the science of information and information sciences in cancer that could represent major areas for transdisciplinary research.
- Determine where/how innovative research approaches in information/information theory might lead to the development of new cancer interventions.
- Offer guidance on how the NCI can integrate areas from the physical sciences (physics, mathematics, chemistry, engineering, etc.) with cancer biology/oncology to enable the development of this field of study.