As a mathematician helped biologists to make important discoveries


2017-03-14 20:00:08




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As a mathematician helped biologists to make important discoveries

Despite the fact that mathematics often called the fundamental science, she often doesn't get enough respect when scientific discovery. But the contribution of mathematics and statistics is very important and transformed whole areas of research, many discoveries would not have been possible without them. Further — the story of mathematics from the first person.

As a mathematician, I have contributed to scientific discoveries and has provided solutions to the problems that tried to solve the biologists. Seven years ago, I attended a lecture on the subject of biological studies that were conducted at the University of Herio-Watt. My colleagues were unresolved problem associated with movement along with sacklike structures called vesicles, which move hormones and neurotransmitters such as insulin and serotonin on the cells and body.

Their problem was the fact that vesicles are known to follow certain tracks on the skeleton of the cell that lead to specific molecules, which then cause the vesicles to release their contents into the cell. However, when the biologists tried to find these tracks, those were not in the expected places.

It is Important to understand how to behave (or not behave) vesicles because they are associated with various diseases, from diabetes to neurological disorders. Biologists could not find a way of understanding these vesicles — but I had a solution in the mathematical Toolkit.


Math is better than biology?

After two years of working together, I told colleagues: "My model and computer experiments to better your microscope!".

By this rather proud statement I meant that using math to simulate the movement of molecules around the cell we can predict and conduct many experiments on the computer at scales smaller and more rapid pace than under the microscope. This allows us to reveal what we can't afford the resources biologists, and even point us in the direction of the target molecules for future treatment of diabetes and neurological disorders.

The Mathematical model allowed us to understand that the movement of vesicles requires energy — and math models it on the energy landscape. Suppose a vesicle — that of a cyclist riding a bike landscape can have a smooth and rough sections that require more energy to overcome them. We wanted to test whether vesicles are trying to avoid these hills.

After seven years of collaborative work with biologists, my colleagues proved that our hypothesis is correct. Vesicles do follow a low-energy "valleys", avoiding molecules that create energy bumps in the energy landscape, choose the easy way out. And the result is expected for biologists: vesicles are proving to be one of the final locations and again use the same path. The only difference was in how they do it, and they do this not just by following the cell skeleton was believed to biologists — they choose the simplest route. This discovery demonstrated the power of mathematics and its capabilities in other Sciences.

Mathematical models allow you to collect many gigabytes of raw data in a compact form, why can't biologists with microscopes. You can easily amend the model and see how can change the behaviour of the vesicles during illness, when damaged or mutated. It can also show which molecules to focus in future research and to lay the Foundation for larger, more thorough modelling of complex biological processes.

Modeled energy landscape

Integration of advanced microscopy cell biology and mathematical modeling can be applied to many other problems in Biomedicine and to accelerate the pace of future discoveries. The movement of molecules and other cellular components is just one example of what can mathematics, but it is, of course, is not limited.

The Math has often criticized the company for lack of "real" applications, but it applies to many real problems. Groundwater pollution, financial and economic forecasting, the height of the eruptions, modeling of biological processes and drug delivery are just a few examples. Mathematics plays a Central role in many scientific achievements of the world and deserves a leading role in most scientific publications.

Gabriel Lord, mathematics Professor at the University of Herio-Watt


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