Our Research

Cancer Physics @ Penn

This ‘Cancer Physics’ Center at the University of Pennsylvania wants to engage interested students, faculty, and the public!

** We are now recruiting stellar students and postdoctoral fellows for various projects. We are keen to interact with other faculty who might have relevant interests and/or expertise. And we are also hoping to engage those in the greater Public with interest and resources to help in the pursuit of new directions and approaches in cancer research — all can help! **

A recent press release provides an initial overview of faculty involved in our Center.

The PSOC@Penn (Physical Sciences in Oncology Center at Penn) is funded by a 5-year NIH grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to focus on physical changes of tissues, cells, and nuclei that contribute to cancer growth and initiation. As tumor cells divide, invade, and displace normal cells, the tissue often changes physically, frequently getting stiffer, sometimes softer, often heterogeneously. Physical changes sometimes occur even before the cancer is detectable. Primary liver cancer appears representative as it almost always arises in the setting of end-stage liver fibrosis, termed cirrhosis, that is caused by excess alcohol consumption among other causes. Measuring liver stiffness is now possible in living patients, and prospective studies show patients with stiffer livers have dramatically increased rates of liver cancer.

Liver cancer is often associated with a scarring type of response, as shown in red (image by Jerome Irianto).
Liver cancer is often associated with a scarring type of response, as shown in red (image by Jerome Irianto).

Our Center integrates cancer experts with physical scientists and engineers who conduct diverse biophysical experiments from tissue scale down to single molecules. Theorists take multi-scale approaches to clarifying and predicting biophysical phenomena. Primary liver cancer is a main focus – though not exclusive to our interests, and our ideas and tools seek to broadly advance modern diagnostics and drive new treatments.

This website will progressively add content to explain our project areas, personnel, and progress.

Nuclear envelopes of cells in Tumors and in Normal Liver (image by Jerome Irianto).
Nuclear envelopes of cells in thin slices of Tumors and Normal Liver (image by Jerome Irianto)