Emerging Mathematical Challenges in Synthetic Biological Network Design (23w2007)


(University of California - Santa Barbara)

Andras Gyorgy (New York University Abu Dhabi)

(ETH Zurich)

(University of Wisconsin-Madison)


The Banff International Research Station will host the “Emerging mathematical challenges in synthetic biological network design” workshop in Banff from August 25 to August 27, 2023.

In 2000, researchers discovered it was possible to program the genetic code of living cells with genetic circuits. Since then, the field of synthetic biology has developed myriad methods for transforming living cells into micro-scale computers, living foundries for the production of useful chemicals, and sentinels for monitoring biochemical changes in the environment. More than 20 years after the inception of synthetic biology, the field is growing to realize novel opportunities that arise from inherent differences in how biology performs computation. These differences are categorically centered in four areas: 1) biology performs increasingly complex computation using distributed multi-cellular processes, 2) biology performs robust computation in the absence of modularity, a departure from Von-Neumann computing, 3) biology enacts genetic programs that are highly context-dependent, 4) biology, unlike engineered digital circuits, are more gray-box than white-box and ultimately require tools from data science to continue in scale. In this workshop, leading synthetic biologists, systems theorists, control theorists, and mathematicians will discuss the most recent challenges in synthetic biology from the perspective of robustness and scalability, as well as the recent advances in theoretical and computational methods to address these challenges.

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).