UK Nonlinear News, November 2002

3rd Mathematics in Medicine Study Group

University of Nottingham 9-13 September 2002

By Oliver Jensen

The third annual Mathematics in Medicine Study Group was held at the University of Nottingham during 9-13 September 2002. On the first day, five biomedical problems were presented to the participants. Prof Alan Moody (Nottingham) asked the study group to develop models describing flow-induced rupture of atherosclerotic plaques in the walls of blood vessels. Prof Jenny Southgate (York) then described the remarkable properties of urothelium, the layer of epithelial cells lining the walls of the bladder, and outlined some of the signalling pathways that control differentiation and proliferation in these cells. Dr Gabriel Landini (Birmingham) described dental cysts, benign but unpleasant fluid-filled cavities that form beneath decaying teeth, and suggested that mathematical models be developed to describe their growth. Dr Roger Bayton (Nottingham) explained how shunts are used to drain fluid from the heads of children suffering hydrocephalus, and asked the Study Group to investigate ways in which the design of these devices might be improved. Finally Dr Stephanie Allen (Nottingham) asked the Study Group to help with the interpretation of experiments in which DNA condensates deposit on a surface and are imaged using Atomic Force Microscopy.

13 post-graduate students and around 35 post-docs and faculty then set to work on the problems. The Study Group format is informal and allows participants to choose which problem they work on, so some move from problem to problem, while others focus on a single problem for the whole week. Mid-week reports on day 3 allowed everybody to catch up on the current state of play, and presentations from each group on day 5 summarised the week's activities. Detailed written reports on all five problems will soon be available in a proceedings booklet (contact

The meeting was also enlivened with two outstanding plenary lectures. Professor James P. Keener (Utah) described models of fibrilation in the heart, and Dr Jonathan Bard (Edinburgh) gave a crash course in bioinformatics for mathematicians.

The Study Group is the last of a series of three that have been supported by an EPSRC/LSI network on Mathematics in Medicine, co-ordinated by the Centre for Mathematical Medicine in the School of Mathematical Sciences in Nottingham. The community of UK `mathematical medics' must now decide how best to carry forward this successful and popular format. A meeting is therefore being held on 16th and 17th December 2002 in Nottingham to review the past three Study Groups and to plan future activities. The meeting will include reviews of 6 past problems (a number of which have matured into independently funded research projects) and two invited lectures (by Professor Dennis Noble, Oxford, and Professor L. Mahadevan, Cambridge). If you wish to be involved in future Study Groups, do please come along. Some funding is available to support travel and accommodation costs (contact

Full details of the December meeting and the past Study Groups can be found at

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