Mathematical modeling in immunology

Published on October 16, 2022   43 min

Other Talks in the Series: The Immune System - key concepts and questions

Other Talks in the Series: Periodic Reports: Advances in Clinical Interventions and Research Platforms

Welcome all. My name is Ruy Ribeiro. Today, I'd like to talk about the impact of mathematics in immunology, which is a subject that has a longer history than one might think.
Perhaps the first question is why even talk about mathematics and modeling in the context of immunology? While the immune response is a very complex process with many interacting players, different types of cells, myriads of molecules, cytokines, chemokines, interleukins. The processes that these cells and molecules mediate are very complex, redundant and dynamic. We know from the history of science that mathematics is an appropriate framework to deal with this complexity in helping to explore relationships and mechanisms.
That's even more the case due to the recent technology and development explosion that led to a massive influx in our capacity to gather data, exposing even more of the complexity of the immune response. However, to transform data into information and knowledge, we need a way to analyze the big data. Again, mathematics is the appropriate language for that.
Of course, mathematics has an ancient history of doing just that. Transforming data into knowledge. Is the Earth or the sun at the center of the universe? As depicted here, a representation of the Ptolemaic Universe. On the right, a representation of the Copernican system. Well, we know the answer is neither. But the point is that even with hundreds of years of observations from many places, so a lot of data, the model of the solar system was wrong for over 1200 years. Yet, Aristarchus of Samos, in the third century Before the Common Era, using basic trigonometry in the figure here, had already inferred in texts that are mostly lost, that the sun is at the center and the Earth moves around it, and even spins on itself. This shows that mathematics has a long history of translating data into knowledge.