Decision and Control Lecture Series
Coordinated Science Laboratory
“Hybrid Models Predict Emergent Dynamics
of Multiscale Cell Populations”
Neda Bagheri, Ph.D.
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
CSL Auditorium (B02)
Computational models are essential tools that can be used to simultaneously explain and guide biological intuition. With increasingly high-resolution, high-throughput, and dynamic experimental data, computational biologists are better equipped to develop informed models that to characterize complex cellular responses and direct experimental design. My lab operates at this evolving interface between engineering and biology; we employ machine learning, dynamical systems, and agent-based modeling strategies to help explain biological observations, and to elucidate design principles that drive both individual cellular decisions and cell populations. In this presentation, I will introduce an agent-based model as an intuitive, modular, and flexible framework to study emergence of heterogeneous cell populations in context of solid tumors. We use this framework to interrogate the inherent multiscale nature of cells—reinforcing how “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”—and to predict cell population dynamics from the composition of simpler biological modules. Elucidating the compositionality problem is fundamental to advancing our understanding of basic science; to promoting the impact of synthetic biology; and to designing precise dynamic therapeutic strategies.
Neda Bagheri directs the Modeling Dynamic Life Systems (MODYLS) Lab at Northwestern University. Her research lies at the cutting-edge intersection of engineering and biology to solve exciting challenges within medicine and basic science. Her group is particularly interested in challenges related to identifying engineering ‘design principles’ that underlie, explain, and rationalize complex biological function, as well as understanding how extrinsic factors can be used to optimize therapeutic interventions. To accomplish these goals, her interdisciplinary team of engineers, basic scientists and applied mathematicians combine experimental data with novel computational strategies derived from statistical analysis and control theory to attack problems from creative angles not possible with single discipline methods. As evidenced from her research accomplishments, solutions to these challenges have potential impact to addressing important problems in cancer and immune system diseases, and in uncovering new fundamental understanding of microbial and circadian biology.
In recognition for her research accomplishments, Bagheri was awarded a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2017. She serves on an NSF Science & Technology Center and on the Immuneering advisory boards, and she is recognized internationally for her leadership in the field of computational and systems biology. Bagheri is invested in mentorship and outreach activities that integrate with her research interests. She participates regularly in diversity panels and is currently preparing a children’s book series targeting K-5 students. She also designed a science policy course to motivate engineers toward more active science citizenship, and to simultaneously reinforce creativity and rigor when communicating with general audiences. Bagheri is a faculty fellow of the Slivka residence hall and an advisor for multiple student clubs.