Two seminars in Biomathematics

Speaker: Adam McLean, Imperial College London
Title: Parameter-free methods for systems biology distinguish Wnt models and guide design of experiments

Abstract: The canonical Wnt signalling pathway is involved in many essential cellular processes. The analysis of mathematical models of Wnt signalling is hampered by a significant lack of relevant biological data, as we highlight using Bayesian methods for parameter inference. To circumvent the lack of data, we appeal to algebraic methods - using concepts from chemical reaction network theory and matroid theory - in order to analyse the models without recourse to specific parameter values. These approaches provide insight into aspects of Wnt regulation: we find that multiple steady states are permitted via control of shuttling and degradation parameters. We also identify groups of variables that should be measured to fully characterise and discriminate between competing models, thus providing guiding principles for performing minimal experiments for model comparison.

Speaker: Rasmus Petersen, Microsoft Research, Cambridge

Title: Tools for designing molecular computation

: For the past four years I have been developing and maintaining the core computational tools in the Biological Computation group at Microsoft Research Cambridge. The group is taking a language based approach to understanding and designing biological systems, that is, building domain specific languages tailored to describe biological systems but to look a bit like programming languages. Rather than compiling to executable code, they compile to descriptions that can be simulated or interrogated in other ways. Specifically we use chemical reaction networks as an intermediate representation. I will showcase the current status of some of the tools along with notable applications and give a preview of some of the future developments.