Workshop in Biostatistics

DATE: March 10, 2016
TIME: 1:30 - 3:00 pm
LOCATION: Medical School Office Building, Rm x303
TITLE: Uncovering dynamics of cell state transitions using synthetic biology and counterintuitive mathematics
SPEAKER: Sahand Hormoz
Postdoctoral Scholar, Division of Biology and Biological Engineering,
California Institute of Technology


During development, tissue maintenance, and in diseases, cells proliferate and transition between physiologically and functionally distinct states. Despite the centrality of these transitions for diverse biological functions, it has remained challenging to determine which transitions can occur and at what rates without perturbations or cell engineering. I will discuss how quantitative cell state transition dynamics can be inferred from a static snapshot of gene expression in individual cells combined with their lineage history. We have been using synthetic biology, single-cell time-lapse microscopy, and single-molecule imaging to apply this framework to determine the dynamics of embryonic stem cells in culture. I will discuss these efforts and some counterintuitive, but beautiful, mathematical structures that have helped us interpret our experimental observations in stem cells and other biological systems.

Suggested readings:

Sahand Hormox, Nicolas Desprat, and Boris Shraiman.  Inferring epigenetic dynamics from kin correlationsPNAS (2015), Vol. 112 no. 18.

Visualization tool for our stem cell data: