Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Three driver gene mutations are required for development of lung and colorectal cancers

A recent revealing article from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America. Martin Nowak from the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, co-authors. 



Cancer arises through the sequential accumulation of mutations in oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. However, how many such mutations are required for a normal human cell to progress to an advanced cancer? The best estimates for this number have been provided by mathematical models based on the relation between age and incidence. For example, the classic studies of Nordling [Nordling CO (1953) Br J Cancer 7(1):68–72] and Armitage and Doll [Armitage P, Doll R (1954) Br J Cancer 8(1):1–12] suggest that six or seven sequential mutations are required. Here, we describe a different approach to derive this estimate that combines conventional epidemiologic studies with genome-wide sequencing data: incidence data for different groups of patients with the same cancer type were compared with respect to their somatic mutation rates. In two well-documented cancer types (lung and colon adenocarcinomas), we find that only three sequential mutations are required to develop cancer. This conclusion deepens our understanding of the process of carcinogenesis and has important implications for the design of future cancer genome-sequencing efforts.

Read Full Article 16 - Memories, false memories and consciousness.

The Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation is proud to support NeuroTV, a monthly online conversation between neuroscientists, psychologists and philosophers about the brain, cognition and mind. Every month, NeuroTV airs a videotaped discussion and/or interview with detailed graphics and drawings to help a general audience understand the most cutting edge research about how the brain controls our psychology and behaviors.

NeuroTV's Episode 16 - Memories, false memories and consciousness In this episode, Felipe de Brigard, Assistant Professor at Duke University, discusses memory, false memories and consciousness.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation Funds Study that Identifies How Tumors Grow

NEW YORK, / Mathematic studies at the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics (PED) at Harvard University, and funded by the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, have shown that the most aggressive cells within tumors can be visually identified for elimination. These aggressive cells are the driver mutations that drive the tumor's growth. The study, which shows a topological map of what to look for when examining tumors, comes at a needed time in cancer research, for while tumor cells can be extracted from biopsy, it's very difficult to know which cells are actually causing the growth. And for inhibitor drugs to work, they have to target the most genetically aggressive cancer cells, amongst others.

The Program, or PED, studies the evolution of living systems with the use of mathematics. Much of their work focuses on the evolution of cancer and has significantly impacted treatment at universities across the country. Funding their work is an inscrutable New York private fund manager, called Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein established the PED in 2003 with a $30 million dollar gift to the university and his science foundation is one of the largest donors to individual scientists around the world including a list of luminaries such as Stephen Hawking and Nobel laureates, Gerard 't Hooft, David Gross and Frank Wilczek.

One of the great challenges of cancer is that tumors are genetically diverse, making it extremely difficult to tackle them with tailored inhibitor drugs. In 2010, the PED showed that even small solid tumors contain at least 40 to 100 genetic mutations within its structure, and that only 5 to 15 of those actually drive tumor growth. The findings highlighted the urgency for better genetic profiling of tumor masses beyond random excision, and the need to pinpoint the minority of tumor cell aggressors.

The PED's spatial modeling of how tumors grow however, now offers the first mathematically proven map of how to visually target the key aggressors within a tumor.

"Mathematics in medical research reveals patterns that are otherwise hidden and it's exhilarating when a mathematician can determine cellular behavior with the precision of an engineer," Jeffrey Epstein asserted.

The Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation Backs the Largest Science Fair in the USVI

The Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, under the umbrella of the Southern Trust Company, Inc. has funded the largest and most important student science fair in the US Virgin Islands. The fair, called the St. Thomas-St. John STEM Fair, was spearheaded by the Virgin Islands Department of Education and consisted of hundreds of grade school students from across the islands, to showcase their science projects for awards at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center.

STEM stands for Science, Math, Engineering and Technology, and has become a known acronym for a rigorous science curriculum in schools. The Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, was founded by St. Thomas resident, Jeffrey Epstein, who plays an active role in supporting science education across the US Virgin Islands. The foundation is also known for establishing the graduate Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard.

At the fair, the foundation supplied more than a hundred Microsoft Surface 2 computers, Touch keyboards and Nylon Sleeves for the Microsoft Surface. The foundation also provided funds to host the fair, travel and accommodation funding for the winners and their chaperones and accommodation support for the STEM summer camps.

“The STEM fairs provide an exciting and important incentive for students across the Virgin Islands to participate in science projects at school and at home,” Jeffrey Epstein remarked.

The STEM fair oversaw more than 165 projects; and the caliber was astounding. One 11 year old prize winner, Ricky James Jr. for example, showed how to power a calculator with a just a penny instead of batteries. Other projects included a solar powered speed boat and a juicer made from a garbage door motor and recycled dishwasher parts.

The top scorers in each category were presented with a STEM trophy, a plaque, a STEM certificate and an iPad. Science categories ranged from research, science demonstrations, math real world problem investigations, math real world models, video presentation, Powerpoint presentations, music technology, Web page design, desktop publishing and programming.

In addition to its work in the US Virgin Islands, the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation supports cutting edge science research across the United States and for establishing the Program of Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University in 2003.

Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation Funds Research to Prevent Crohns and Colitis Disease

NEW YORK, March 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Crohns and Colitis Disease is a chronic disease of the lower intestinal track, causing inflammation and a host of crippling symptoms from ulcers to intestinal rupture. The disease affects approximately 700,000 Americans and many more suffer from undiagnosed irritable bowel syndrome. To date, not much is known about the ultimate cause of Crohns but for the first time in its history researchers are targeting the bacteria that cause the inflammation.

Founded by the science and Harvard philanthropist, Jeffrey Epstein, the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation has been an avid supporter of the Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America's (CCFA) initiative to identify the bacteria that cause bowel inflammation. Specifically, the CCFA backs pivotal research called the Microbiome Initiative—which identifies 14 bacterial metabolic profiles associated with IBD.

To tackle these 14 bacteria types, researchers are developing the first line of inhibitors to block specific bacterial metabolic pathways, along with dietary supplements to redirect bacterial metabolites.

"This is the first time that a treatment for Crohns and Colitis addresses the cause, instead of the symptoms," Jeffrey Epstein remarked. "Even though we don't know the root cause of the disease, except for a possible genetic disposition, drugs will soon block the bacteria that cause inflammation."
"We anticipate that in the next three to five years, we will have isolated microbial targets and develop strategies that will form the basis for new therapeutic interventions," Dr. R.Balfour Sator stated, who is CCFA Chief Medical Advisor and Midget Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology & Immunology, and Director of the UNC Multidisciplinary IBD Center.

The Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation also supports the CCFA's Genetics Initiative which focuses on the more than 100 internationally-identified genetic factors that contribute to IBD risk. To date, seven high-priority genetic pathways that regulate immune function or the intestinal lining cell response to injury have been targeted for intensive investigation for inhibitor therapy.

Jeffrey Epstein is the founder of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University. He is also a former board member of the Mind, Brain and Behavior Committee at Harvard and a former board member of Rockefeller University.