Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems

Project Highlights
Team Members
Partner Organizations

Project Highlights

Last updated: Nov 1, 2006

Alzheimer's Disease

Our main achievement in this area is to initiate a partnership with Merck scientists, and to investigate a new model for amyloid beta metabolism and transport. Details of this project are currently not for public exposure, but a publication is under preparation summarizing this work.

Autoimmune (Type 1) Diabetes

Our highlight for the year has been appearance of a number of publications completed in previous years and submission of new work on the periodic cycles of circulating T cells observed in pre-diabetic mice. This work led to interesting mathematics, including a homoclinic bifurcation in a nonlinear set of ordinary differential equations that we studied.

Stem Cells

Technologies based on both adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells hold a great promise for future medical research and treatments. The orchestration of stem cell self- renewal, proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis in vitro will require not only the identification of key molecular interactions but also the spatial and temporal aspects of these interactions. This represents one challenge faced by the emerging field of stem cell bioengineering. The team has developed a novel gene expression assay based on the expression change of seven key genes. Development of this assay was done through statistical analysis of large gene expression data sets. This required development of novel statistical methods for the joint analysis in multiple data sets.

Another equally important challenge is to be able to expand stem cells to large numbers in culture while maintaining their developmental potential. Human embryonic stem cells (hESC) have a doubling time of about 35 h and extensive cell expansion (presumably in large-scale cultures or bioreactors) would be needed to produce clinically relevant numbers of cells. Experiments have been performed to understand the effect of culture conditions. These experiments have determined that pH and osmolality both have significant influences on the yield of stem cells in culture.

Team Members' Awards and other highlights

  • Adriana Dawes (former PhD student with Keshet): MITACS award for Outstanding Service to the Student Network (2006).

  • Adriana Dawes: First prize for poster at the MITACS AGM at York (2006).

  • Colleen Ball (MSc. Student with Coombs) won the best poster prize at a conference on the evolution of diseases that she attended using MITACS support, at U. Western Ontario, (May 2005).

  • Caroline Colijn (2006) MITACS Best Student Paper award, MITACS/CAIMS Annual meeting, York.

  • Dushek has been awarded a large NSERC fellowship.

  • Dawes has been awarded a prestigious PDF position at the Center for Cell Dynamics (U Washington)

  • Diane Finegood (2005) Distinguished Nutrition leadership Award, Danone Institute, Canada.

  • Ozge Karanfil (trainee with Mackey) 2006 Annual Dana Meadows Award for the best paper by a student presented at the annual System Dynamics Conference. ($500 and conference expenses).

  • Jamie Piret: Faculty Member of the Year Award, UBC Engineering Co-op Progr, 2006

  • Michael Mackey, (2006) Canadian Applied and Industrial Mathematics Research Prize.