Transmissible Cancers in Tasmanian Devils

The Linnean Society of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BF, United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7434 4479 EXT 11

EVENING MEETING 18:00–19:00 Thursday 16 March 2017

Tasmanian devil
Tasmanian devil © Maximilian Stammnitz

Tasmanian devils are marsupial carnivores endemic to the Australian island of Tasmania. This species is endangered due to the emergence of a transmissible cancer that is spread between individuals by the physical transmission of living cancer cells by biting. This cancer causes disfiguring facial tumours, which usually result in the death of affected devils within months. The disease has caused a devastating decline in the devil population, and there is concern that it could lead to the extinction of the species.

Dr Elizabeth Murchison is a geneticist at the University of Cambridge who studies the evolution of transmissible cancers. She will discuss recent genetic analysis of transmissible cancers in Tasmanian devils, and explain how these studies are revealing patterns of disease spread through the population. Her studies are providing a detailed insight into how cancer cells can escape from their hosts and become infectious agents.

  • This event is free and open to all.
  • Registration is not necessary. Seats will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Doors will open at 17:30.
  • Tea will be served in the Library from 17:30 and the event will be followed by a wine reception.

Video Podcast