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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/C547942/1
Title: WORKSHOP: Theory and Applications of Coupled Cell Networks
Principal Investigator: Matthews, Dr PC
Other Investigators:
Ashwin, Professor P Dawes, Professor J Coombes, Professor S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Mathematical Sciences
Organisation: University of Nottingham
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 12 December 2005 Ends: 11 March 2006 Value (£): 14,935
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Non-linear Systems Mathematics
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Most large-scale physical systems are built out of smaller objects, assembled in a very special way. Most of the time, each component has a different role and a different shape, for example in a car. But some large-scale systems are best described as being composed of a large number of Identical (or nearlyidentical) smaller components (or 'cells') joined by connections. Examples include communication networks such as the internet.Many biological systems can also be thought of in this way, albeit slightly more abstractly: for example circuits of neurons in the brain, and environmental food webs describing predator-prey relationships (where the network links are given by who eats who). In many biological systems it is only recently that techniques have been developed to unravel the network structure of some systems, in particular genetic regulatory networks that govern the expression of different genes at different times in a given biological cell.Scientifically, the description of a large system as a network of identical smaller ones provides ways of explaining unusual phenomena, for example a tendency for cells to synchronise (fall into step with each other). To understand ways in which synchronisation can happen, and predict the dynamics of these systems, mathematicians have started with very idealised models, assuming, for example, that cells are exactly identical and that they are all coupled equally strongly to all the others. Even in this case, the mathematical results are complicated and sometimes surprising.This proposal is for a workshop to stimulate mathematicians and mathematical biologists to consider how to bring recent mathematical results into closer contact with recent developments in biology. Mathematical results for 'idealised' systems show that coupled cell systems have typical modes of behaviour, and this has provided general guides to the kinds of biological behaviour that one might see. Synchronisation is sometimes a good biological outcome, as in the co-ordinated flashing of swarms of fireflies, and sometimes a bad one, as in the tremor attacks that result from Parkinson's disease. But as better biological information becomes available, the mathematics is challenged to provide further qualitative and quantitative predictions.The benefits of interactions between mathematics and applied science are many and varied. Better biological understanding results from mathematical modelling, explanation and prediction. In turn this will affect biological views of these systems, indirectly influencing clinical treatments and drug development. In the longer term biological scientists will come to better appreciate the certainty of mathematical methods in comprehending the wealth of data generated by experiment. Mathematicians need to extend the models used for these, and related, systems, and develop general frameworks for dealing with the imperfections always found in nature
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Organisation Website: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk