2012 NSF-CMACS Workshop on Cellular Signaling Pathways

Workshop Dates: January 4, 2012 - January 24, 2012

Workshop Location: Carman Hall, Room 118, Lehman College

See also 2010 Workshop on Cellular Signalling Pathways and 2011 Workshop on Atrial Fibrillation

Workhop Outcomes

Fifteen students attended the 2012 workshop. They learned about the mechanisms used by signaling pathways to trigger events in the nucleus of a cell and in small groups of three, they studied specific pathways known to be involved in the development of cancer. Their studies involved using BioNetGen models of the pathways to determine the probability distribution for how long it would take for a target event to occur after an initiating event. The student presentations on their work are at Student Projects and Presentations

Workshop Description

Are you interested in how cells work? Would you like to know how do they decide to grow. to move. to split. or to die? Do you like working with high-performance computers? Would you like a career in biology, medicine, computer science, or math, or even a career combining all of these fields? Does discovering new things excite you?

Every winter Lehman College holds an NSF-sponsored workshop on modeling complex systems, for undergraduate students. The students attending the workshop use and develop software and computational tools to learn about the behavior of biological systems. In the winter of 2010, the students studied cellular signaling pathways (think of networks or circuits, but involving communication between cells instead of computers). In the winter of 2011, the students studied how hearts behave (and misbehave, as in atrial fibrillation). In the upcoming winter workshop, we will return to the study of cellular signaling pathways, which are believed to be important in the development of cancer when mutations change their behavior.

The workshop is staffed by researchers (both faculty and doctoral students) actively researching the topics covered by the workshop. In addition to Nancy Griffeth of Lehman College, who is working in computational biology and is the director of the workshop, numerous distinguished faculty visit from other universities to work with the students. In 2010, James Faeder of the University of Pittsburgh, Chris Langmead of Carnegie Mellon University, and Bud Mishra of New York University gave presentations and worked with students on projects. In 2011, Flavio Fenton of Cornell University presented lectures and labs for a week, Ezio Bartocci of Stony Brook University helped the students work with a parallel simulation of a heart, and Scott Smolka and James Glimm of Stony Brook and Robert Gilmour of Cornell University gave special keynote talks.

Students that have attended past workshops have found it helpful both in deciding what they want to do and in getting into graduate school for further studies. Several have gone on to work with faculty at Carnegie Mellon, the University of Pittsburgh, and New York University, after meeting them at the workshop Some are attending graduate school. One attendee is using mathematical modeling and machine learning to study genetic networks at NYU. Another is at Oregon Health and Science University, studying machine learning for using huge data sets to inform simulation and modeling. A third decided to switch from pre-med to computational biology, because he wants to do research and teach, and is now in the Ph.D. program at Yale University. A fourth is reconsidering research, in favor of a medical career.

Students with background in computer science, mathematics, or biology should consider applying to this workshop (only one field is needed)! This is an opportunity to work with students from diverse fields, to meet distinguished faculty, and to learn what a research career would be like.

This work was supported by the NSF under grant number 0926200.

Nancy Griffeth