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IMA New Directions Short Course
Cellular Physiology
June 16-27, 2003

James KeenerUniversity of Utah
Alex MogilnerUniversity of California

Cellular physiology is an area in which mathematical techniques are greatly needed and research opportunities abound.  It is a vital part of the rapidly growing field of mathematical biology.

The goal of the course will be to prepare qualified participants to start collaborative interdisplinary research in the area.  The course has two main components.  One component deals with the science of mathematical biology, and covers

  • The modern state of mathematical biology with emphasis on application in molecular and cell biology and physiology;
  • The mathematical tools ubiquitous in modern mathematical biology;
  • Prominent success and failure cases in mathematical biology.

The second component is designed to provide the participants with the 'soft skills' needed to in a multidisciplinary research collaboration, and involves

  • Presentations on the style mathematical modeling appropriate and necessary in modern computational biology;
  • Problems solving session in which the participants are engaged in modeling of typical cell biological phenomena.

The overall goal of the course will be to familiarize the participants with specific mindset and style of the field of the modern mathematical biology, and to enable them to start working in the field on their own. The overall structure of the course will be three lectures per day (two in the morning, one after lunch) followed by a working problem solving/discussion.

An important feature of this course will be the problem solving sessions.  For these the instructors will choose several biological problems from "hot" fields (e.g., signal transduction, biochemical regulation), collectively identify corresponding modeling problems, "brain-storm" the model, formulate model equations and delineate their solutions, analyze the solutions together. An attempt will be made so that these sessions represent a realistic demonstration of the interaction between theoreticians and experimentalists.

Additional lectures, meant to provide the participants with valuable insights into the field, are more informational in nature,
and will be more in the format of discussion sessions. An invaluable part of the program will be informal discussions with the participants, in which the instructors will help them to bridge their own current mathematical research with biological applications and suggest ways to find collaborators and new topics.

Textbook resources for this material:

  1. J. Keener and J. Sneyd, Mathematical Physiology, Springer 1998,
  2. C. Fall, E. S. Marland, J. M. Wagner, and J. J. Tyson, Computational Cell Biology, Springer, 2002.