University of Cambridge, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Cambridge, UK
Elizabeth Murchison is Reader in Comparative Oncology and Genetics at the University of Cambridge, Department of Veterinary Medicine. Her laboratory, the Transmissible Cancer Group, studies the origin, diversity and evolution of transmissible cancers in dogs and Tasmanian devils. Her 2011 TED talk, entitled “Fighting a contagious cancer” introduced a global audience to the concept of transmissible cancers.
Transmissible cancers are malignant clonal lineages that survive beyond the deaths of their original hosts by the transfer of living cancer cells between hosts. In mammals, transmissible cancers are known in only two species: dogs and Tasmanian devils. The canine transmissible venereal tumour is a sexually transmitted cancer that manifests as genital tumours and which first arose in a single dog that lived several thousand years ago. Tasmanian devils are marsupial carnivores that are affected by two transmissible facial cancers, both of which are transmitted by biting. I will discuss recent work using genetics to further decipher the origins and evolution of these remarkable cancer lineages.
Host: Claudia Kutter (email@example.com)
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