Researchers publish cross-disciplinary biological study

first_imgIn a cross-disciplinary effort, Notre Dame biology and mathematics professors have published a study on stathmin, a key protein in the cytoskeleton, demonstrating the success of mathematical computer modeling and lab work in photographing of stathmin.Notre Dame associate professor of biochemistry Holly Goodson recently published the study in conjunction with professor of applied mathematics Mark Alber. “Mark Alber’s lab specializes in doing biological modeling and they had already approached us about the possibility of trying to put something together with this,” Goodson said. “We’ve actually been working on this for quite a long time. The models had to start very simply and we’ve built complexity over time.”In developing the mathematical model, Goodson said the goal was to create a system that was not overly complex. “The first thing we’re looking for is just general behavior,” she said. “Then you can add extra levels of details to make it more precise. One of the main things you can get out of something like this is to figure out what really matters.”Using computational models in a systems biology approach indirectly tests and observes conceptual models of the dynamic subcellular system, Goodson said. Although electron microscopes can capture images nanometers in size, such pictures are often incomplete, she said.“It’s like trying to understand a football game: if you’re trying to figure out football from a hundred random snapshots of the game, you would never see anything interesting,” Goodson said. “You would never see a touchdown, it would never happen. That’s kind of like electron microscopy: it’s hard to figure out what’s really going from these snapshots frozen in time.”Stathmin plays a crucial role in the destruction and uptake of microtubules, Goodson said, a dynamic, continuous process that is difficult to track. Her lab formulated conceptual ideas for the mechanism of this process, Goodman said, and obtained only limited evidence by traditional biochemical means.“It was frustrating because we couldn’t really figure out how to test if these ideas were correct,” Goodson said. “It goes back to the saying that you don’t really understand something until you can predict it quantitatively. “It’s too complicated a system to write down mathematical models — all we really know is how the individual pieces interact, but we don’t really know how that would give rise to specific predictions about the behavior of the system other than that ‘it grows’ or ‘it falls apart.’”Goodson said she studied computational biology as a rotation student working on modeling protein ­folding in the lab of Michael Levitt, one of the winners of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.Goodson said she believes computational and inter­disciplinary approaches are the way of the future in biology, as shown by joint efforts of Notre Dame’s biochemistry and mathematics departments.“This is an example of why it’s important for people in a variety of sciences to be learning something about biology because there’s a lot of science that’s going to be done in the next 20 years or so at this interface between biology and the other sciences,” she said.Tags: Biological Modelinglast_img read more

Syracuse hosts Notre Dame in pivotal conference matchup, still looking for first ACC win

first_img Published on March 26, 2014 at 11:39 pm Contact Jesse: jcdoug01@syr.edu | @dougherty_jesse A year after finishing his career as an elite defender on Syracuse’s back line, Brian Megill already sees things differently. Since leaving SU, he’s gained a new outlook on the game, and it’s one he wishes he had while still playing with the Orange. So a day after SU dropped its third Atlantic Coast Conference game in as many tries on Sunday, Megill emailed some of his former teammates. He’s worked through the same kind of rut the team is currently stuck in, and offered a perspective it badly needs. “I wanted to tell them that bad runs happen, but have to be stopped by the team as a whole,” Megill said. “For guys like the seniors, there isn’t a lot of time left and I lived that last year.”No. 9 Syracuse (4-3, 0-3 ACC) hosts No. 7 Notre Dame (4-2, 2-0) in the Carrier Dome at noon on Saturday, and it could be the last chance for the Orange to salvage a season that is slipping away. For SU’s senior class — notably goalie Dominic Lamolinara, attack Derek Maltz, midfielder Billy Ward and long-stick midfielder Matt Harris — the date with the Fighting Irish, and the games proceeding it, present an ultimatum of sorts. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange has six games left on its regular-season schedule. And if it doesn’t end its season-long skid soon, it won’t play into the ACC or NCAA tournament, and a handful of careers will be cut short. “We’re not happy,” SU head coach John Desko said. “We have to get better, we’re better than halfway through the season, and we have to get better as a group in almost all aspects.”The hours following SU’s 21-7 loss to Duke last Saturday were solemn. No more than 30 minutes after the final whistle, players were watching film — of them being outclassed by the Blue Devils — on their laptops in the team van. When they got on the plane, the laughing that follows road wins was absent. So was the light talking that normally follows a road loss. NCAA rules forced Desko to give the team a day off Monday, and he still hadn’t seen his players when he addressed the media before practice Tuesday afternoon. But they had seen one another. “We had a team meeting, and it was one of the more brutal team meetings I’ve ever been a part of,” Lamolinara said. “For the first time ever I think our hearts were questioned, where we are and what we want.“I mean, with the way it looked on Sunday I think it’s warranted to question where some people’s hearts are.”As has been the story all season, the next game isn’t any easier than the last. Notre Dame doubled up No. 8 Virginia 18-9 on March 16 — Syracuse lost to the Cavaliers by five goals earlier in the season — and edged No. 5 North Carolina 11-10 on March 1. UND also has the second best faceoff specialist in the country in senior Liam O’Connor, who is winning draws at a 68.5 percent clip. And in its last game against Ohio State, sophomore attack Matt Kavanagh scored a program record-tying seven goals. Syracuse, on the other hand, is still cycling six players through a faceoff rotation winning draws just 37 percent of the time. O’Connor gets to improve his torrid start against a limping group, and if he gets the Fighting Irish possession more times than not, Kavanagh will have a chance to put a dent in the scoreboard. There’s no time for Syracuse to breathe after its worst loss of the season. Just another tough test, six games and the growing possibility that that will be it.“The thought of having just six more games is mind boggling,” Lamolinara said. “I used to have that many games in a weekend at some tournaments. Looking at that has opened up our eyes to what we have in front of us.“We haven’t lost anything yet and our goals are still there.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more