Speaker: George Craciun (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Title: Mathematics and computation in systems biology: challenges and opportunities
Abstract: The reliable operation of biological systems is due to complex interactions between its constitutive parts, which give these systems the ability to produce specific functional properties. These functional properties have mathematical counterparts. For example, cellular decision and differentiation is related to the existence of multiple basins of attraction, i.e., multistability, while homeostasis is related to the mathematical notions of persistence and global stability. On the other hand, the task of determining the capacity for multistability, persistence, and global stability in mathematical and computational models gives rise to very challenging problems.
These challenges create great opportunities in both directions: for mathematical and computational contributions towards understanding biological systems, but also for using biology-inspired ideas in the development of important new mathematical methods, tools, and directions.
To illustrate these ideas we will discuss several examples, including: (i) how a classification of positive and negative feedbacks allows us to analyze biochemical switches, (ii) the connection between homeostasis and biochemical reversibility, and (iii) recent progress toward understanding robustness in biological systems.