Group Leader: Hillen Research Group @ University of Alberta
Description: The research in the Hillen Research Group is focussed on the use of advanced mathematics to gain new insight into the complex process of “cancer”. Cancer is an outstandingly complex process, including many components such as the tumor microenvironment, immune response, blood supply, cancer cells and their genotypes and phenotypes, and treatments. Mathematics is the language of complex systems, hence we should make use of it to further our understanding of cancer! Much of our research is inspired by the vision that mathematics has more to offer to biology than data fitting. Of course, data analysis and model fitting is very important. However, we believe that mathematics can be used to uncover new structures, find unexpected relations between components, and identify new ways to think about a well known problem. Some examples from our research include the investigation of the tumor growth paradox, an effect where treatment can lead to increased spread; the result that tissue mechanics can lead to an Allee effect; our modeling of anisotropic diffusion based on cell movement along white matter fibres; the supporting role of the immune response in cancer progression; and a systematic study of tumor control probabilities. Many of our papers are based on experimental data, but not all. We also publish mathematical work in the traditional Lemma, Theorem, and Proof style. We are very excited to be part of the world-wide effort to use mathematics and computation to fight cancer. The problem is complex, and we all have our own way to contribute.