University of Michigan Math and Science Scholars
Mathematical Modeling in Biology
Mathematical biology is an exciting interdisciplinary field that combines applied mathematics, scientific computing, biology, ecology, physiology and medicine. This branch of mathematics is growing with phenomenal speed! For the mathematician, biology opens up new and exciting areas of study, while for the biologist, mathematical and computational modeling offers another powerful research tool that can provide insight into the complexity of a biological system. Mathematical biologists typically investigate problems in diverse and exciting areas such as the topology of DNA, cell physiology, the study and spread of infectious diseases, population ecology, neuroscience, tumor growth and treatment strategies, and organ development and embryology. This course will be a venture into the field of mathematical modeling in biology and the biomedical sciences using techniques from calculus, dynamical systems and scientific computing. Interactive lectures, group projects, computer demonstrations, and guest speakers will help introduce some of the fundamentals of mathematical modeling and its usefulness in biology, physiology and medicine. For example, the cell division cycle is a sequence of regulated events which describes the passage of a single cell from birth to division. There is an elaborate cascade of molecular interactions that function as the mitotic clock and ensures that the sequential changes that take place in a dividing cell take place on schedule. What happens when the mitotic clock speeds up or simply stops ticking? These kinds of malfunctions can lead to cancer and mathematical modeling can help predict under what conditions a small population of cells with a compromised mitotic clock can result in a fully developed tumor. Students who can speak the languages of mathematics and computation along with biology and medicine will be able to solve some of the most challenging problems of the 21st century. Wouldn’t it be amazing if mathematics could guide future experiments that lead to a cure AIDS or Cancer?