Fabian Spill (he/him)
Principal Investigator (PI)
Applications of stochastic models
Ordinary differential equations
Coupled bulk-surface reaction-diffusion systems
Biology of Ageing
Dynamic interplay of cells and their microenvironment
Fabian has diverse research interests in the field of mathematical biology. Currently, he is trying to understand how mechanical properties of the cells and their microenvironment influence cell behaviour through mechanosensing pathways. For instance, YAP/TAZ are two important intracellular molecules which increase their activity with increasing stiffness of the substrate on which the cells are attached too, and this can drive proliferation of these cells. In the context of tumours, which are often stiffer than comparable healthy tissues, this might imply that physical properties such as stiffness can drive tumour progression (such as uncontrolled proliferation), complementing well-studied genetic alterations in tumours.
Fabian is developing mathematical models of the YAP/TAZ regulating pathway to study how mechanical and molecular stimuli are integrated by cells to mediate their responses. Moreover, he is interested in understanding how the subcellular localisation of signalling molecules affects the outcome of signal integration. This is of importance far beyond mechanosensing pathways, as almost all pathways involve subcellular localisation of at least some important molecules, such as those binding to the cell membrane. This can be especially important when cells change their shapes, and thus the region of membrane/cytosol interactions changes. Consequently, otherwise identical cells with different shapes can behave differently, simply because of their altered geometry.
Fabian is also interested in the application of stochastic models to biology. He investigated how stochastic effects can change the behaviour of reaction-diffusion systems, developed methods to improve simulation efficiency of such systems, and applied such methods to biological systems including tumour angiogenesis or travelling wave problems. More recently, he investigated how stochastic effects can shift the evolutionary outcome of the in-vitro selection of oligonucleotides. This later system is used to identify molecules which have particular binding properties to diverse target molecules.