Human cancers are thought to be sustained in their growth by a pathologic counterpart of normal adult stem cells: cancer stem cells. This concept was first developed in human myeloid leukemias and is today being extended to solid tumors such as breast and brain cancers. A quantitative understanding of cancer stem cells requires a mathematical framework to describe the dynamics of cancer initiation and progression, the response to treatment, and the evolution of resistance. In this review, I use chronic myeloid leukemia as an example to discuss how mathematical and computational techniques have been used to gain insights into the biology of cancer stem cells.

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Franziska Michor uses the tools of theoretical evolutionary biology, applied mathematics, statistics, and computational biology to address important questions in cancer research.

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