Mathematical Models in Biology: from Information Theory to Thermodynamics (Online) (20w5074)


(Case Western Reserve University)

(York University)

(Case Western Reserve University)


The Banff International Research Station will host the "Mathematical Models in Biology: from Information Theory to Thermodynamics" workshop online, from July 26 to July 31, 2020.

All living things, from the simplest bacteria to human beings, are made of cells. Fundamental understanding of living systems, both in health and in disease, depends on understanding the complex interactions among and within living cells. Multiple scientific disciplines have separately shed light on the problems of communication and organization in living systems. Biochemistry, bioinformatics and systems biology describe the basic ingredients of cells: DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids, and their interactions. Information theory, founded by Claude Shannon, provides a framework for quantifying the flow of information through any communications system, whether living or engineered (or both, as in the rapidly growing field of synthetic biology). Statistical thermodynamics, the branch of physics concerned with transformations among different forms of energy as well as with the physics of information, sets fundamental limits on the energetic price cells must pay for the information they sense (from each other, from the environment, and from their own DNA).

In the last five years, significant advances in statistical thermodynamics and the information theory of biological systems have set the stage for a deeper understanding of how cells process and organize information, make decisions, predict the future, and learn from the past. An essential link between these traditionally disparate fields is the language of mathematics, which provides a common framework within which researchers can understand each other across disciplines. The workshop on Mathematical Models in Biology: from Information Theory to Thermodynamics will bring together leading experts and aspiring junior researchers from systems biology, statistical physics, information theory, and applied mathematics to develop the fundamental, linking ideas, to compare recent advances in their fields, and to establish new collaborations.

To receive an invitation, please complete the google survey at this link ( prior to July 20. If you previously confirmed your attendance at the workshop, there is no need to re-register.

In conjunction with the workshop, the journal Biological Cybernetics is organizing a special issue on "Information Theory and Thermodynamics in Biology". Originally restricted to workshop participants, the SI now welcomes all submissions. All papers received by July 20 will be considered for the SI (subject to standard peer review); papers received after July 20 may be considered for the SI on a case by case basis. To submit a paper to the SI please follow this link:

If you are interested in presenting your work at the virtual poster session (details TBA), please submit a title and abstract through this link ( by July 20 at this link.

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).