An Afternoon Lecture in Dublin

Dublin, June 14th 2006
Niall McMahon

At a lecture earlier today at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, James Keener of the University of Utah presented a fascinating overview of his team's efforts to model and understand the onset of cardiac fibrillation. In his introduction, he defined systems biology to be a discipline that has much to do with computational biology, integrative biology and the multiscale modelling of biological processes. He acknowledged that building biological models is very difficult (for one thing biological processes have dimensions spanning about 16 orders of magnitude!). He placed most emphasis, however, on the absolute necessity for applied mathematicians and engineers to be responsible, that is to learn about biology and to work closely with biologists and medics. And biologists and medics must work closely with applied mathematicans and engineers. This is the only way to make any progress. I liked this. What I liked most though was his unrestrained enthusiasm for this difficult work and his certainty that systems biology is the way to go. It is, of course. You can find out more about James Keener's interesting work and see some beautiful images of cardiac reentry waves at his website. The lecture was hosted by the Institute for Numerical Computation and Analysis, based here in Dublin, and the RCSI.

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