This special focus on Information Processing in Biology is jointly sponsored by the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS), the Biological, Mathematical, and Physical Sciences Interfaces Institute for Quantitative Biology (BioMaPS), and the Rutgers Center for Molecular Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry (MB Center).
The mathematical sciences have long spurred fundamental and applied advances in the life sciences. In the modern era a number of major transformations are associated with specific individuals: the profound physiological analyses of Helmholtz, and the Crick theory of X-ray scattering from double helices, are only two among many. More recently a major cultural shift toward mathematics and computation has been forced by the Human Genome Project which would not have been possible, absent the methods of mathematics and advanced computation.
The subject on which this workshop focuses, infectious disease, is among the areas in which applied and fundamental quantitative science has played a major role for decades. Contributions range from differential equations models of disease dynamics in human populations--which provides, among other things, the basis for policy--to the quantitative tools of the civil engineer, which have increased life span by decades. More recently, advances in cell biology have transformed our understanding of disease related processes, including molecular changes that occur when pathogens infect cells; physical processes that underlie infection; and systemic changes in the host. We are now poised to understand the biological, chemical and physical determinants of host-to host transmission and changes in host range, and to begin integrating such understanding with changes in demographics, climate, globalization and so on. A central goal of infectious disease research is, therefore, integration across scales. This workshop offers a unique opportunity for physicists to exchange ideas with colleagues in the biomedical sciences on a range of topics relevant to emerging and remerging infectious disease, which cut across scales. These include the physical properties of proteins and nucleic acids and their interactions; the mechanisms governing the behavior of molecular motors; the physics of transcriptional and translational control; learning, memory and adaptation in cells, organs and individuals; and the dynamics of host-host and host parasite interactions.