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Mixing biology and physics to understand stem cells and cancer

Ben Hall from Microsoft Research in Cambridge will talk about some of his research in systems biology. 


Biological phenomena arise from the communication and physical interactions between cells. For example, in the process of organ growth and development, stem cells are sent signals at specific times and locations which determine how the cell changes as it progresses towards its ultimate fate. How the cell responds to the signals is determined by the protein signalling networks within the cell. However, it is the movements of the cell in its 3D physical environment which ultimately control the cells development.I’m going to talk about how I have developed a hybrid simulator in F# which allows us to explore how stem cells grow in an organ, and how breakdowns can lead to cancer growth. Our approach takes cellular network models built in an F# based web tool, the BioModelAnalyzer (, and couples them with a 3D model of the biophysical environment. I’ll talk about the results of modelling the process of oogenesis in the C. elegans gonad, and how I have taken advantage of different features of F# and other tools to understand the results.

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