Multiscale Mathematical Biology

The Mathematical Biology group is headed by Prof. Roeland Merks. It is based at the Mathematical Institute and the Institute of Biology Leiden of Leiden University

We develop multiscale, quantitative and predictive computational models of multicellular systems, together with experimental collaborators at a range of institutes in the Netherlands and abroad, including the Institute of Biology Leiden, the Leiden Academic Center for Drug Research, the Hubrecht Institute, Amsterdam Medical Center, VU University Medical Center, and the University of Pittsburgh. Our primary focus is on the mechanisms of biological growth and form, for which we develop multiscale, cell-based modeling approaches.

Multiscale, cell-based modeling

One of the most central questions in biology is how the sequential information in the genome translates to biological form and function.

We need two logical steps to explain how genetics drives biological development, which put the cell in the center of the explanation. First we ask how genes define the cell’s behavior, then we ask how collective cell behavior drives the formation of patterns, shapes, and physiological and pathological functionality at the tissue and organ level.

We are applying this multi-scale, cell-based approach to de novo and sprouting blood vessel growth (angiogenesis and vasculogenesis), to auxin-flux-driven patterning problems in plant development, to problems in tumor growth, and to modeling metabolism of the gut microbiota.

Online talks

  • Hybrid cellular Potts modeling of cell-extracellular matrix interactions driving cell shape, cell migration and collective cell behavior. Newton Institute, Cambridge, 13 July 2023.
  • Mathematical Modelling of Embryonic Development: The Intra- and Extracellular Networks that Coordinate Collective Cell Behaviour. Webinar hosted by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Zeti Azura Mohamed Hussein at the Institute of Systems Biology (INBIOSIS) Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, January 8, 2021
  • Mathematical modeling of cell shape and collective cell behavior due to cell-ECM cross-talk. Workshop "Bridging Cellular and Tissue Dynamics from Normal Development to Cancer: Mathematical, Computational, and Experimental Approaches". Banff International Research Station (BIRS), Banff, Canada, June 21, 2019
  • Cell-based, computational modeling of mechanical cell-matrix interactions during embryonic development. Workshop "Mathematics for Developmental Biology". Banff International Research Station (BIRS), Banff, Canada, December 12th, 2017.
  • Multiscale cell-based modeling of mechanical cell-matrix feedback during collective cell behavior. Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge, UK, September 18th. 2015.
  • The Morphogenesis of Branched Tissues. Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, Santa Barbara, Ca, USA, March 3, 2013.