MBI Emphasis Semester on Mathematical Molecular Biosciences Fall 2015
This one-semester program will bring together researchers from mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, computer science, and engineering to explore new ways to bridge these diverse disciplines, and to facilitate the use of mathematics to solve open problems at the forefront of the molecular biosciences.
An important trend in contemporary life sciences is that with the availability of modern biotechnologies, traditional disciplines, such as physiology, plant biology, neuroscience etc, are undergoing a fundamental transition from macroscopic phenomenological ones into molecular based biosciences. In parallel with this development, a major feature of life sciences in the 21st century is their transformation from phenomenological and descriptive disciplines to quantitative and predictive ones. Revolutionary opportunities have emerged for mathematically driven advances in biological research. Experimental exploration of self-organizing molecular biological systems, such as HIV viruses, molecular motors and proteins in Alzheimer's disease, are examples of dominating driving forces in scientific discovery and innovation in the past few decades. However, the emergence of excessive complexity in self-organizing biological systems poses fundamental challenges to their quantitative description, because of the excessively high dimensionality and the complexity of the processes involved. Mathematical approaches that are able to efficiently reduce the number of degrees of freedom, and model complex biological systems, are becoming increasingly popular in molecular biosciences. Multiscale modeling, manifold extraction, dimensionality reduction and machine learning techniques are introduced to reduce the complexity of biomolecular systems while maintaining an essential and adequate description of the biomolecules of interest.
Currently, a major barrier for mathematical scientists to work in this field is the lack of knowledge in molecular biology, while a major barrier for biologists is the lack of knowledge about modern mathematical tools and techniques that have been developed in the past 20 years. This semester workshop program is designed to help bridge gaps between molecular biologists and mathematical scientists and to facilitate their collaborations. There is enormous potential in this area for integrative interdisciplinary research in which theoreticians and experimentalists develop solutions to challenging problems in tandem. This program will act as a catalyst to fully exploit these synergies, and create a network of collaborations that will sustain future activities in this area beyond the duration of this program.