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Immunology, Ecology and Epidemiology (main themes)


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9th December 2001 to 15th December 2001

Original URL:

Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences

From Individual to Collective Behaviour in Biological Systems

10 Sep - 19 Dec 2001

Organisers: Professor PK Maini (Oxford), Professor H Othmer (Minnesota), Professor TJ Pedley (Cambridge), Professor BD Sleeman (Leeds)

Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge, UK



10 December - 14 December 2001

Organisers: Professor Brian Sleeman, Professor Charles Godfray, Dr Vincent Jansen, Professor David Krakauer


Themes: The purpose of the workshop is to bring together experimentalists and theoreticians working in Immunology, Ecology and Epidemiology with the aim of fostering interaction and research.

In this time of unprecedented environmental change it is crucial for scientists to formulate a mechanistic description of the change based on underlying ecological processes. For example, the spatial spread of introduced exotic organisms, many of which are pest species, can have a devastating effect on the indigenous flora and fauna; species ranges shift in response to abiotic factors (such as climate), biotic factors (such as new competitors/parasites) or evolutionary adaptions; new diseases spread spatially; and competitive plant communities can change drastically in composition when disturbed by fire and clear cutting.

Approaches using classical deterministic mathematical models have had some limited success in describing these spatial ecological processes. However, there is a growing realization, amongst ecologists and theoreticians alike, that stochastic factors, both demographic and environmental, play a fundamental role in determining ecological outcomes.

Because of new technology the quantification of cellular populations is now routine in immunology laboratories. This has led to a steadily increasing stream of kinetic data on the population dynamics of various types of immune cells. With this accumulation of data comes a realisation that a proper understanding of the underlying dynamical systems will only be achieved when the data are considered within the organising framework of a formal theoretical model. Mathematical immunologists have energetically responded to this newly felt need, forming a growing number of close collaborations between theoretical and laboratory immunlogists. Some of these collaborations have been rich sources of new insights; not only into biological processes, but also in showing the usefulness of mathematical modelling to large tranches of a biological community.

As outlined above fundamental to such interactions is the question of how one manages the wealth of molecular detail, and where appropriate, how this detail might be incorporated into a macroscopic or population level description.

In seeking answers to these questions a major objective is to attempt to identify mathematical and computational methods common to these areas, whether the individuals are molecules, cells or organisms.

The workshop will provide a forum in which to identify problems, to understand what has been accomplished in various areas and to seek new directions of research.

Confirmed speakers: C Bangham (Imperial College), C Godfray (Imperial College), B Grenfell (Cambridge), D Rand (Warwick), A Sasaki (Kyushu).

Expected speakers (unconfirmed): R Antia (Emory), S Bonheoffer (Friedrich Miescher Institute), A Hastings (UCDavis), S Levin (Princeton), M Lewis (Utah), A Lloyd (Princeton), A Perelson (Los Alamos), L Segel (Weizmann Institute), D Wodarz (Institute for Advanced Study).

Location and cost: The Workshop will take place at the Newton Institute and accommodation for participants will be provided in single study bedrooms with shared bathrooms at Wolfson Court, a hall of residence adjacent to the Institute. The workshop package costs £300, which includes registration fee, accommodation, breakfast and dinner from dinner on Sunday 9 December until breakfast on Saturday 15 December, and lunches and refreshments on the days that lectures take place.

Scientific enquiries may be addressed to Professor Brian Sleeman.

University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
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