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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life SciencesOur research

Quantitative Biology

We use methods from the mathematical and physical sciences to better understand the dynamics of a range of complex biological systems, from networks of molecular reactions inside cells to ecosystems

Pattern formation by reaction diffusion
Pattern formation

Our work in this area takes an interdisciplinary approach to studying complex biological systems, which combines practical experimentation with mathematical and statistical analysis, in order to develop a quantitative understanding of biological complexity. We are interested in problems that span the full range of life on earth, from molecular dynamics inside cells, to ecosystems and evolutionary dynamics.

Current projects include:

  • Stem cells and tissue engineering: Our work in this area combines experiment with mathematical models to advance our understanding of the complex biological processes involved in cellular differentiation and tissue growth and development, for applications in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.   
    Prof Richard Oreffo, Dr Nick Evans, Dr Rahul Tare, Dr Bram Sengers, Dr Ben MacArthur
  • Biological networks: Cell behaviour is governed by a variety of different complex regulatory networks (for instance, metabolic, transcriptional, signalling, and protein-protein interaction networks). Our work in this area combines experimentation with mathematical modelling to better understand the structural properties of these regulatory networks and the ways in which structural features relate to dynamics and ultimately cell behaviour. 
    Dr Rob Ewing, Dr Ruben Sanchez-Garcia, Dr Ben MacArthur


  • Evolutionary biology and ecology: We study evolutionary and ecological dynamics using a range of techniques from game theory on networks to quantitative genetics. We are interested in understanding basic evolutionary mechanisms, such as transgenerational inheritance, and also in how evolution shapes human culture.   
    Prof Tim Sluckin, Dr Patrick Doncaster, Dr Richard Watson

For more information about the Quantitative Biology theme please contact the theme lead below.

Related Staff Member

The Institute funds a cohort of interdisciplinary PhD studentships each year. Current postgraduate students in this field include:

Fabio Strazzeri

Fabio Strazzeri

Topological Data Fusion – A novel approach for high-dimensional data integration, analysis and visualisation

Tao Wang

Tao Wang

Obesity and health over social networks

Joseph Egan

Joseph Egan

Modelling tumour-immune system interactions using experimental and mathematical approaches

Martina Testori

Martina Testori

Modelling the effect of empathy and emotion on strategies in two-player games

Key Publications

Image supplied by Dr Ben MacArthur
Mouse ES cells

Systems Biology of Stem Cell Fate:  Dr Ben MacArthur, Dr Rob Ewing, Patrick Stumpf

Stem cell fate decisions are controlled by intrinsically complex molecular regulatory networks, involving a wide variety of protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions. Due to this complexity, it is difficult to understand molecular regulation of stem cell fate at the systems level. However, computational techniques can be used dissect this complexity and elucidate the essential molecular mechanisms that underlie stem cell fate determination. Our work is aimed at combining experimental studies with mathematical models of stem cell fate regulatory networks. Since transcription and translation are intrinsically “noisy” processes these models include both deterministic and stochastic mechanisms which can give rise to cell-cell variability in stem cell populations.





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