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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/I007563/1
Title: Workshop: Frontiers of Multidisciplinary Research: Mathematics, Engineering and Biology
Principal Investigator: Soyer, Professor O
Other Investigators:
Baker, Professor RE
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Engineering Computer Science and Maths
Organisation: University of Exeter
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2010 Ends: 31 January 2011 Value (£): 23,775
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Continuum Mechanics Non-linear Systems Mathematics
Theoretical biology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Modern scientific inquiry is increasingly blurring traditional discipline boundaries. This is particularly the case in biology. Two important fields emerging from this trend are systems and synthetic biology. The former aims to achieve a system-level understanding of the molecular basis of physiological processes by utilising an iterative research cycle of theory and experiment, whilst the latter aims to utilise such an understanding to engineer biological systems. Together these fields are making significant scientific, social and economic impacts, ranging from increased knowledge in basic science to novel applications in health and biotechnology.Both systems and synthetic biology have emerged from the increased involvement of mathematicians, physicists and engineers in the addressing of biological questions. Today, both mathematical modelling and computational simulations are heavily used in analysing and predicting the dynamics of biological systems. These studies allow a better understanding of biological data, the generation of new hypotheses and experimental designs, and the development of biological engineering applications. More importantly, these mathematical and computational approaches allow the development of ideas and concepts to explain biological phenomena at a universal level rather than at the level of specific organisms. In other words, they form an important component of research that seeks an understanding of biological rules and principles .On the other side, the engagement of mathematics and engineering in studying biological questions drives the advancement of wide-ranging areas of mathematics, engineering and computer science. Examples of latter advancements include the design and development of robust networks based on studies of biological networks and the development of new computer languages and modelling algorithms inspired by or used for biological system analysis. In the field of mathematics, the challenge of addressing biological problems has led to several developments and applications in the areas of coupled stochastic equations, bifurcation analysis and delayed differential equations.In summary, the analysis of biological systems using a combination of experimental observations, mathematical modelling and numerical simulation presents itself as a cutting-edge research field. For this field to sustain and develop its impact in both theoretical and experimental fields, as explained above, the facilitation of interaction among experimental biologists, mathematicians, physicists and engineers is vital. Current disciplinary boundaries do not facilitate interaction among scientists; scientists from different fields usually occupy different buildings at university campuses, publish in journals specific to their field and attend different scientific meetings. Existing scientific meetings usually fall into two categories; small meetings specialising on a specific scientific question, and large meetings covering a wide field. The former target a specific (and small) group of scientists who are already aware of each others work (and potentially collaborating), while the latter target a diverse group of scientists but usually do not allow specific interactions to develop due to their large size and a crowded presentation programme. What is more desirable is to maintain the diversity of larger meetings while not sacrificing the interaction-friendly structure of small meetings. In particular, an un-crowded presentation program, well-embedded discussion sessions and a carefully selected set of speakers from diverse but connected fields can act as a facilitator of discussion and interaction among scientists from theoretical and experimental domains.
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Organisation Website: http://www.ex.ac.uk