How do cells make choices?

The shape of the virus capsid appears to dictate its motions
Viruses are extremely efficient. They tightly pack a bundle of DNA or RNA, containing instructions on how to build new viruses, in a shell made from protein and sometimes a membrane. This is an artistic rendering showing the simple architecture emerging from the more detailed virus capsid.

Animals and plants are made up a cells; small, individual units which talk to one another, make decisions and can break down. The cells behave properly as a result both of the communications between different cells, and their internal state. I’m interested in how cells make these decisions, and how we can bring together lots of different sources of information to build a picture of the process. I use and build advanced computational tools to do this, taking inspiration both from detailed physical models, as well as the abstract models used widely in computer science.

This blog is intended to discuss my research into these processes, and other interesting outputs as they arise. In particular, I will share short descriptions of the work I’ve been doing. I also generate new ways to visualize complex systems, and I will use this blog to share different images (like the one above) which arise.

I lead a research group at the MRC Cancer Unit at the University of Cambridge (http://www.mrc-cu.cam.ac.uk/hall.html) where we study how mistakes in cellular decision making processes may lead to the development of cancer. I also consult for Microsoft Research Cambridge, where I’m involved in the development of new tools for building models, in particular the BioModelAnalyzer (http://biomodelanalyzer.research.microsoft.com/).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s