Mathematical Biology and Ecology Seminar

Please note that the list below only shows forthcoming events, which may not include regular events that have not yet been entered for the forthcoming term. Please see the past events page for a list of all seminar series that the department has on offer.

Past events in this series
3 November 2017
Professor Antonis Papachristodoulou

Feedback control is found extensively in many natural and technological systems. Indeed, many biological processes use feedback
to regulate key processes – examples include bacterial chemotaxis and negative autoregulation in genetic circuits. Despite the prevalence of
feedback in natural systems, its design and implementation in a Synthetic Biological context is much harder.  In this talk I will give
examples of how we implemented feedback systems in three different biological systems. The first one concerns the design of a synthetic
recombinase-based feedback loop, which results into robust expression. The second describes the use of small RNAs to post-transcriptionally
regulate gene expression through interaction with messenger RNA (mRNA). The third involves the introduction of negative feedback in a
two-component signalling system through a controllable phosphatase.  Closing, I will outline the challenges posed by the design of such
systems, both theoretical and on their implementation.

  • Mathematical Biology and Ecology Seminar
10 November 2017

We adopt the paradigm of understanding how the heart develops during pregnancy as a first principal to inform on adult heart repair and regeneration. Our target for cell-based repair is the epicardium and epicardium-derived cells (EPDCs) which line the outside of the forming heart and contribute vascular endothelial and smooth muscle cells to the coronary vasculature, interstitial fibroblasts and cardiomyocytes. The epicardium can also act as a source of signals to condition the growth of the underlying embryonic heart muscle. In the adult heart, whilst the epicardium is retained, it is effectively quiescent. We have sought to extrapolate the developmental potential of the epicardium to the adult heart following injury by stimulating dormant epicardial cells to give rise to new muscle and vasculature. In parallel, we seek to modulate the local environment into which the new cells emerge: a cytotoxic mixture of inflammation and fibrosis which prevents cell engraftment and integration with survived heart tissue. To this end we manipulate the lymphatic vessels in the heart given that, elsewhere in the body, the lymphatics survey the immune system and modulate inflammation at peripheral injury sites. We recently described the development of the cardiac lymphatic vasculature and revealed in the adult heart that they undergo increased vessel sprouting (lymphangiogenesis) in response to injury, to improve function, remodelling and fibrosis. We are currently investigating whether increased lymphangiogenesis functions to clear immune cells and constrain the reparative response for optimal healing.

  • Mathematical Biology and Ecology Seminar
10 November 2017

Hypoxia, i.e. a reduction in dissolved oxygen concentration below physiologically normal levels, has been identified as playing a critical role
in the progression of many types of disease and as a key determinant of the success of cancer treatment. It poses a particular challenge for treatments
such as radiotherapy, photodynamic and sonodynamic therapy which rely on the production of reactive oxygen species. Strategies for treating hypoxia have
included the development of hypoxia-selective drugs as well as methods for directly increasing blood oxygenation, e.g. hyperbaric oxygen therapy, pure
oxygen or carbogen breathing, ozone therapy, hydrogen peroxide injections and administration of suspensions of oxygen carrier liquids. To date, however,
these approaches have delivered limited success either due to lack of proven efficacy and/or unwanted side effects. Gas microbubbles, stabilised by a
biocompatible shell have been used as ultrasound contrast agents for several decades and have also been widely investigated as a means of promoting drug
delivery. This talk will present our recent research on the use of micro and nanobubbles to deliver both drug molecules and oxygen simultaneously to a
tumour to facilitate treatment.

  • Mathematical Biology and Ecology Seminar
17 November 2017

Image use continues to increase in both biomedical sciences and clinical practice. State of the art acquisition techniques allow characterisation from subcellular to whole organ scale, providing quantitative information of structure and function. In the heart, for example, images acquired from a single modality (cardiac MRI) can characterise micro- and macrostructure, describe mechanical function and measure blood flow. In the lungs, new contrast agents can be used to visualise the flow of gas in free breathing subjects. This provides rich new sources of information as well as new challenges to extract data in a way that is useful to clinicians as well as computer modellers.
I will describe efforts in my group to use the latest advances in machine learning to analyse images, and explain how we are applying these to the development of accurate computer models of the heart.

  • Mathematical Biology and Ecology Seminar
24 November 2017
Professor Julia Gog

This will be a whistle-stop tour of a few topics on infectious disease modelling, mainly influenza. Topics to include:

  • challenges in capturing dynamics of pathogens with multiple co-circulating strains
  • untangling the 2009 influenza pandemic from medical insurance claims data from the US
  • bioinformatic methods to detect viral packaging signals
  • and a big science project (top secret until the talk!)

Julia will be visiting the Mathematical Institute on sabbatical this term, and hopes this talk will help us find areas of overlapping interests.

  • Mathematical Biology and Ecology Seminar
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