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Geometric order and movement patterns in embryonic epithelia: informing controversy using theory and computation

Mathematical Biology

Speaker: Tim Newman, Arizona State University
Location: 2112 MSB
Start time: Mon, Apr 26 2010, 3:10PM

Embryonic development remains one of the most fascinating and yet poorly understood areas of biology. I will describe two recent examples of quantitative experimental measurements, both pertaining to embryonic epithelial tissues, which have been the subject of some controversy. The first is the apparent universality of cell neighbor statistics. The second concerns the mechanisms underlying the fundamental process of primitive streak formation in the avian embryo (which is also directly relevant to early human development). My group has been applying theoretical and computational tools to both examples. Whether our results have inflamed or resolved the controversies remains to be seen. Encouraging is the fruit borne from a tight-knit connection between theoretical biological physics and experimental biology.