Seminario: Beyond modeling and simulations: Examples of how mathematics yields insight into cell biology

Martedì 19 Aprile 2016, ore 15:00 - Aula 2BC30 - Morten Gram Pedersen



Martedì 19 Aprile 2016 alle ore 15:00 in Aula 2BC30, Morten Gram Pedersen (DEI, Università degli Studi di Padova) terrà un seminario dal titolo: "Beyond modeling and simulations: Examples of how mathematics yields insight into cell biology".

Differential equations are widely used to describe biophysical and biochemical processes occurring in cells. The modeling process is by itself extremely useful to clarify which biological processes we do or do not understand, leaving very little room for “hand-waiving” arguments. The derived equations can then be numerically solved in order to simulate the cellular processes of interest, in particular to investigate “what-if questions”, such as the possible effects of pharmacological interventions.
I will illustrate the modeling and simulation process using examples from my own research on electrical activity in pancreatic alpha- and beta-cells, which secrete the blood-sugar-regulating hormones glucagon and insulin, respectively.
I will then move on to show how mathematical analysis of the obtained models can bring further insight that goes beyond computer simulations. The mathematical ideas that are mostly used are tools coming from the analysis of dynamical systems, such as bifurcation and time-scale analyses. I will show how effects of stochastic fluctuations on electrical activity in pancreatic beta-cells can be better understood using such tools.
Mathematical analysis is also involved in correct formulations of multiscale models: I will illustrate how to go from local and stochastic dynamics of ion channel complexes to global and deterministic models of whole-cell electrophysiology using mathematics.
In summary, the seminar will use examples from my own research on electrophysiology to provide an overview of how mathematics (in contrast to computations) is involved in processes ranging from interpretations of experiments, model formulation, and understanding simulations.

I will also provide a brief introduction to my mathematical biology course offered to third year students:

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