Sensing and Signaling in Immune Systems: Mathematics meets Biology (22w5139)


(University of Toronto)

Gregoire Altan-Bonnet (National Cancer Institute)

Paul Francois (McGill University)

(University of Washington)


The Banff International Research Station will host the "Sensing and Signaling in Immune Systems: Mathematics meets Biology" workshop in Banff from February 13 - 18, 2022.

All living organisms, from bacteria to whales, are constantly encountering infectious pathogens. To battle these threats, organisms have developed diverse and sophisticated immune strategies that rely on sensing the environment, and adaptively responding to the pathogenic challenges. In order to perform their functions in multi-cellular organisms and populations, cells of the immune system constantly sense their environment. The information from the environment, encoded through a multitude of molecular signals, is processed by internal molecular ‘machinery’. These signal processing pathways are able to perform a staggeringly wide array of precise functions in presence of high levels of noise, cross-talk and uncertainty. The overarching questions that guide this workshop are: 1) how immune cells and their collectives perform signal processing and decision making on multiple spatial and temporal scales in presence of cross-talk and environmental noise? 2) how do evolutionary and molecular constraints shape these biological “computations” by the immune system? 3) how these signaling networks can be manipulated for clinical interventions in disease?

To answer these questions, a synergy between a wider variety of experimental and computational approaches is necessary. The purpose of this workshop is to bring researchers from many different fields - mathematicians, physicists, systems biologists, experimental immunologists and clinicians - to focus on the organizing mathematical principles of signaling in immune systems via synthesis of a wide range of experimental and mathematical approaches. Answering these questions will not only advance our understanding of the fundamental biological problems but also paves the way for biomedical applications and for the design of new mathematical and computer science algorithms.

The Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) is a collaborative Canada-US-Mexico venture that provides an environment for creative interaction as well as the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and methods within the Mathematical Sciences, with related disciplines and with industry. The research station is located at The Banff Centre in Alberta and is supported by Canada's Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Alberta's Advanced Education and Technology, and Mexico's Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT).