The first Michigan Interdisciplinary Mathematics Meeting
on the topic
Modeling and Analysis in Medicine and Biology

by James Sneyd

The first Michigan Interdisciplinary Mathematics Meeting on the topic Modeling and Analysis in Medicine and Biology was held in the Mathematics Department of the University of Michigan, at the beginning of August. There was an excellent lineup of speakers, all of whom gave wonderful talks, there was a conference banquet at the Michigan League, and a number of posters rounded out the meeting.

Day 1. We heard first from Charles Peskin, who showed impressive videos of his latest computational results on blood flow in the heart, and then from Sally Blower, who described her work on the emergence of antiviral drug resistance. In the afternoon, George Oster gave us a wonderful tour of various complicated bits and pieces inside cells that build ATP, and finally Bard Ermentrout, in an impressive display of restraint and gentility, educated us on the properties of waves in synaptically coupled neuronal populations.

Day 2. First Lee Segel talked about the role of feedback, particularly spatially localised feedback, in the control of the immune system, and then our very own Jennifer Linderman (from the University of Michigan that is) discussed ligand efficacy, and showed us, among other things, that drug companies don't always do the right thing in their search for new drugs. Neither do rock stars I suspect. James Keener, almost defibrillating in front of our very eyes, gave an excited and exciting demonstration of the powers of homogenization, and the usefulness of arms as models of channel gates. This was when he wasn't trying to advertise his new book. I hear this book is very good and you should all go out and buy at least one copy. (See more details in this newsletter.) Finally, John Tyson, in typical calm and collected fashion, led us through some of the intricacies of the cell division cycle.

Day 3. We began with De Witt Sumners, who showed us that knot all topology is pure as the driven snow, but can actually (horrors) be useful. Very broadening to the mind. Simon Tavare talked about stochastic models and their use in the study of evolution and hereditary diseases. Finally Robert Eisenberg applied the Eisenberg certainty principle (as first proposed by B. Ermentrout of course) to models of ionic channel flow, and Suzanne Lenhart discussed how the principles of optimal control can be applied to the study of population models. Her talk of killing beavers caused some disturbance, but she reassured us that she does not do the dirty deed in person.

Overall, an excellent conference (I have to say this, as I helped to organise it), and we (Charlie Doering, Denise Kirschner, Kenneth Lange, and myself) thank all those who participated. Future MIMMs will be held each year, but they won't be on Mathematical Biology, and I won't be organising them. This is a good thing.

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