Quantitative Analysis of Immune Cell Migration and Spatial Processes in Health and Disease (18w5153)

Arriving in Oaxaca, Mexico Sunday, June 24 and departing Friday June 29, 2018


(Utrecht University, Theoretical Biology & Bioinformatics)

(McGill University)

Johannes Textor (Radboud University Medical Center)


The study of spatiotemporal processes in immunity has been an active area of biological investigation that has already benefited substantially from the joint work of mathematicians and biologists. A few examples of collaborative publications from the last 4 years include: Ariotti et al. (2015) J Immunol; Gerard et al. (2014) Cell; Harris et al. (2012) Nature; Halle et al. (2016) Immunity; Mandl et al. (2012) PNAS; Niculescu et al. (2015) PLoS Comput Biol; Novkovic et al. (2016) PLoS Biol; Textor et al. (2014) PLoS Comput Biol. However, there have not been any recent conferences that aim to bring together experts in immune cell migration and dynamic cell imaging, with mathematicians that have developed novel quantitative approaches to integrate immunological datasets. BIRS provides a unique and exciting opportunity to provide a much-needed workshop in this field at a time when technological advances in microscopy have opened up many new research avenues, and brought concomitant challenges in data analysis.\\ The goal of this workshop to be held in 2018 is to foster intense cross-talk between computational and experimental scientists in the field of immune cell migration, particularly with a view to connecting migratory mechanisms of cells to immune cell function in disease settings where migration and/or immune cell function are perturbed. We propose to build on a previous BIRS workshop held in 2011 organized by Dan Coombs, Rob de Boer and Rajat Varma on "Imaging, Interpretation and Modeling in Modern Immunology" which was an enormous success. While the 2011 BIRS workshop initiated discussions on different modelling approaches of microscopy data ranging from individual proteins within cells to whole cells, here we will focus on how the behavior of cells, their interactions with other cells and with surrounding tissue matrices, leads to distinct functional outcomes at the whole-organism level. The workshop will create opportunities for novel collaborations that will guide both future experimental and mathematical work enabling integration across disciplines that will be critical to advances in this area.\\

We have invited a group of experimental and theoretical scientists, striving to include several new investigators (many of them female) that have recently established their labs. So far, 30 of 42 invitees (indicated by an asterisk* in the list provided) are interested in attending the meeting, expressing enthusiasm for the timeliness of this BIRS proposal. Graduate students and post docs will additionally have the opportunity to submit abstracts to attend, space permitting. The workshop will be structured around talks grouped by topic, with ample time for critical discussion in-between led by designated session chairs. We will also select one experimental and one theoretical scientist to “set the scene” by providing broader talks on the particular challenges in the field and important unanswered questions on the first day of the workshop.