David Rand

Warwick Mathematics Institute & Zeeman Institute

CURRENT RESEARCH INTERESTS

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Biological information


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Cells present a very different context from that of the communications channels considered in classical information theory. The genetic and epigenetic information contained in the genome is translated by molecular interactions into dynamical processes. Described by dynamical interaction networks, these stochastic dynamical systems respond to signals generated both inside and outside the cell and can use their dynamical interactions to pass information in these signals to processing units, such as networks of genes, to be used for cellular regulation and decision-making.


Among the key activities that underlie the functioning of cells (synthesising and metabolising molecules, building cellular structures (mechanics), ...) perhaps the most pervasive is the utilisation of information. In order to function properly the processes in the cell are dependent upon information from both the things going on in the call and from the cell's external environment. The problem is that we don't really have a conceptual framework with which to understand this.

The genetic and epigenetic information contained in the genome is translated by molecular interactions into dynamical processes. Described by dynamical interaction networks, these stochastic dynamical sys- tems respond to signals generated both inside and outside the cell and can use the dynamical interac- tions to pass information in these signals to processing units, such as networks of genes, to be used for cel- lular decision-making. However, while the notion of information content is clear when one is talking about strings formed from a finite alphabet as in DNA or RNA, there is currently no clear conceptual framework once the genomic information has been passed into the dynamic processes. A key aim of this project is to develop such a conceptual framework in the context of dynamic signalling systems, a task that requires the development of significant new mathematics.

Much of my current work is concerned with providing this conceptual framework and applying it to specific biological systems to check it real-world applicability and convince biologists this is a useful endeavour.


Recent papers in this area.

Multiplexing information flow through dynamic signalling systems. G. Minas, D. J. Woodcock, L. Ashall, C. V. Harper, M. R. H. White, D. A. Rand, Preprint biorxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/863159
Parameter sensitivity analysis for biochemical reaction networks. Giorgos Minas, David A Rand, Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering, 2019, 16(5): 3965-3987. doi: 10.3934/mbe.2019196.
Long-time analytic approximation of large stochastic oscillators: simulation, analysis and inference. Giorgos Minas, David A Rand. PLoS Computational Biology (2017) 13(7):e1005676 doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005676.
Temperature regulates NF-κB dynamics and function through timing of A20 transcription. C. V. Harper, D. J. Woodcock, C. Lam, M. Garcia-Albornoz, A. Adamson, L. Ashall, W. Rowe, P. Downton, L. Schmidt, S. West, D. G. Spiller, D. A. Rand* and M. R. H. White*. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2018, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1803609115, PMID: 29760065 *Communicating author.
© David Rand
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