Quantitative biology: where modern biology meets physical sciences.
Bottom Line: They involve making accurate measurements to test a predefined hypothesis in order to compare experimental data with predictions generated by theoretical models, an approach that has benefited physicists for decades.First, graduate training needs to be revamped to ensure biology students are adequately trained in physical and mathematical sciences and vice versa.We present the annual Physiology Course organized at the Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole, MA) as a case study for a hands-on training program that gives young scientists the opportunity not only to acquire the tools of quantitative biology but also to develop the necessary thought processes that will enable them to bridge the gap between these disciplines.
Affiliation: Cytoskeleton Dynamics and Motility Group, LEBS, CNRS, 91190 Gif-sur-Yvette, France Cytoskeleton Dynamics and Motility Group, LEBS, CNRS, 91190 Gif-sur-Yvette, France email@example.com.Show MeSH
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Mentions: This interdisciplinary approach helps students from diverse backgrounds develop a common language. After the boot camp, students work together on three 2-week-long research projects under the guidance of leading scientists. Projects range from studying the spatial organization of the human oral microbiome and observing the development of the Caenorhabditis elegans embryo all the way to performing computational simulations of cytoskeletal polymers. By working together in a highly informal and stimulating environment, physicists learn to appreciate biological problems and biologists begin to see biological phenomena in a new light as a result of the novel physical tools and methodologies they learn from their peers. As an example, course participants Rikki Garner and Daniel Feliciano successfully collaborated to study how competition between two highly processive microtubule motors that work in opposition controls microtubule length. While Rikki (mentored by Jané Kondev) tackled the question theoretically using a random walk model, Daniel, under the mentorship of Joe Howard, carried out the experimental measurements via an in vitro assay to test Rikki's predictions. Other examples of quantitative and biological expertise coming together to address biological questions include studying the displacement and transport of proteins at the interface between cells and synthetic supported lipid bilayers (Figure 1), observing and quantifying the cytoplasmic streaming as well as the filter-feeding flow vortices in the giant single-celled organism Stentor coeruleus (Figure 2), and imaging the spatial organization of complex oral microbial communities (Figure 3).
Affiliation: Cytoskeleton Dynamics and Motility Group, LEBS, CNRS, 91190 Gif-sur-Yvette, France Cytoskeleton Dynamics and Motility Group, LEBS, CNRS, 91190 Gif-sur-Yvette, France firstname.lastname@example.org.