Special Day on Mathematical Biology: in honor of Hans Othmer on the occasion of his 60th Birthday

Abstracts for the talks

Polymers in Cells - A journey from fundamental polymer science to cancer diagnosis and nerve repair

Josef Käs 
The physics of biological cells signifies the next fundamental challenge to soft matter physics since it requires to create polymer physics for thermal nonequilibrium (an aspect which is usually only considered in nonlinear dynamics) and to combine cutting edge techniques from nanosciences, nonlinear optics, laser trapping and gene technology. Since all eukaryotic cells, depend in their internal structure and organization on the cytoskeleton we particularly strive to understand the physics of the cytoskeleton. Polymeric actin networks provide the rigidity for biological cells. We discovered that molecular motors can significantly lower the stress relaxation time, effectively fluidizing an actin gel. This result demonstrates that switch-able nano-sized motors can regulate the strength of polymeric materials. We have developed an optical stretcher that can serve as a unique tool for studying the viscoelastic properties of dielectric material such as biological cells. We are now exploring the possibility of using the optical stretcher as a first method for not only detecting single cancer cells by cytoskeletal changes, but also precisely determing the degree of progression of thedisease. Furthermore, the initial and formative factors in nerve regeneration as well as the formation of neuronal circuits in vivo are determined by the leading edge of a growing nerve the so-called growth cone. We have developed a novel neuron guidance technique that uses weak laser-induced optomolecular forces to influence the motility of a growth cone by biasing the polymerization-driven intracellular machinery. The laser controls the direction taken by a growth cone, the growth speed, and the bifurcation of a growth cone. Furthermore, recent results indicate that it is also possible to optically control growth cone arrest, interstitial branching, and the synaptogenesis between axonal growth cones and cell bodies of other neurons.

Self-organized patterns generated by one-point growth in biological systems

Masayasu Mimura 
It is observed in experiments that combustion from one point ignition in microgravitiy and colonial formation from one point inoculation in bacterial growth generate complex spatio-temporal patterns. I would like to discuss formation of such patterns by using reaction-diffusion equation models.

Date and Location

October 21, 2003
Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences
Inselstraße 22
04103 Leipzig
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Scientific Organizers

Angela Stevens
Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences

Administrative Contact

Katja Bieling
Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences
05.04.2017, 12:42