University of Birmingham
School of Mathematics
We are an interdisciplinary group of scientists excited about systems biology and mechanobiology.
We study biology integrated with mathematical and computational models and experiments.
On this webpage, you can find out about who we are and what we are working on.
Our Research Philosophy
We believe that advancing our understanding of biology and medicine in the 21st century requires both mathematical and experimental research, ideally performed closely together. This is similar to how physics progressed historically. However, one major difference is that biology is more complex and inherently multiscale. To understand a cell, it is not sufficient to understand all molecular components. Conversely, the molecular state within a cell depends on the global organisation of compartments within the cell. Moreover, different physics can influence the state of a cell. For example, metabolic networks are driven by compartmentalisation (e.g. by localising key components of the pathway to the mitochondria) and physical variable such as membrane potentials. Recent research also revealed that mechanical properties of the cell can influence the molecular networks. An example is the YAP/TAZ signalling pathway, that is driven by the mechanics of the extracellular matrix, the internal cytoskeleton and the nuclear mechanical architecture.
How can we obtain a holistic understanding of the cell, or of whole tissues or organisms, that account for such crosstalk between molecules and physical properties? Traditionally, mathematics was mostly employed for theories or models of single physical problems, e.g. differential equations for the equations of motion in physics or for chemical reaction systems. One of our goals is to develop mathematical models to study the interplay of qualitatively different features, e.g. mechanical and molecular features, and how both together affect biological functions.