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"A Physicist's View of Biology at the Global Level: Seeking a balance
between Realistic Representation of Molecular Systems and Practical Needs
in Computational and Mathematical Modeling across Scales"
Who: Dr. Sergio Hassan (Center for Molecular Modeling [CMM], Division of Computational Bioscience [DCB/CIT])
"Medical Advances through Bioengineering and Medical Knowledge Discovery through Information Visualization"
Who: William E. Bentley, Ph.D. (Professor and Chair, Fischell Department of Bioengineering)
Event Description: Dr. Bentley’s research involves bacterial “quorum sensing” to interfere with potential harmful disease-inducing biofilms in the human body. He is collaborating with nanotechnology researchers to create “nanofactories” in the body to deter these harmful effects. Nanofactories are pseudo-cells that are swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, and travel to a specific location in the body. The tiny biochemical factories could potentially use materials already in the body to manufacture medicine at the first sign of infection or disease.
Dr. Shneiderman will feature information visualization tools that enable researchers to accelerate their processes of discovery on basic science problems such a microarray gene expression data analysis and on pharmaceutical drug discovery. These tools played a key role in identifying the 11 genes responsible for muscular dystrophy in a project with Childrens National Medical Center. Another research project involves visualization and search on electronic health records to identify patterns in clinical data, identify common outcomes of varying treatments, and understand the antecedents of medical events such as heart attacks.
"Reverse Engineering of the Mitotic Spindle"
Who: Dr. Alex Mogilner (Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, and the Department of Mathematics, University of California, Davis)
Abstract: Mitotic spindle is a complex mechanochemical machine characterized by consecutive periods of increasing separation between spindle poles and sister chromatids. While a number of molecular perturbations have revealed the basic mechanisms of multiple motor and microtubule actions underlying spindle dynamics, a complete picture of how motor and microtubule forces are integrated is still lacking. . To address this challenge, we developed and utilized a novel computational algorithm that automatically builds 'virtual spindles' in the /Drosophila/ embryo and uses quantitative experimental data to screen and optimize them. We discovered that there is a tremendous variety of plausible /in vivo/ activity profiles and mechanical characteristics of mitotic motors that can explain wild type behavior. Further search identified only 21 distinct strategies for spindle organization, which quantitatively explain spindle kinetics in wild type and in eight mutant and inhibited embryos. Remarkably, only one of these 21 models is further supported by the chromosome motility data, and it is also the most robust, indicating that this is the most plausible model. The search also identified a number of features conserved for all models, including the timing of the activity of dynein and a few kinesins, as well as the forces and velocities of crucial mitotic motors, and generated predictions, some of which agree with available data, but most requiring future tests.