ITLApplied  Computational Mathematics Division
ACMD Seminar Series
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Guts, Bugs, and Dietary Fiber - A Mathematical Approach to Studying a Complex Biophysical System

Arun Moorthy
Biophysics Interdepartmental Group, University of Guelph

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 15:00-16:00,
Building 101, Lecture Room C
Wednesday, June 17, 2015 13:00-14:00,


The composition of the microflora inhabiting the colon and its affect on health has been a topic of international and cross-disciplinary interest for the better part of this century. With the advance of bio-laboratory techniques and data acquisition, there exists a plethora of observational hypotheses circulating the gut literature. However, due to significant variability in methods and results, many of these hypotheses end up seeming contradictory. And due to the general costs of experimentation, systematic/repeated investigation for improved reliability is almost unheard of.

The compuGUT is a simulation tool developed to aid in the exploration/construction of mechanistic understanding underlying the interactions of intestinal microflora and their physical environment. It can be used to test existing hypotheses, compare why contradictions may arise, and suggest mechanisms based-on observations. In this seminar, I will discuss: (1) The construction of the underlying deterministic model, (2) The development of the numerical implementation/software, and (3) Preliminary ‘biological’ investigations we have been able to conduct. We consider the compuGUT a first-step in what will be a continued and iterative modeling-experimental approach to guiding detailed understanding of the flora, its interactions, and affect on health.

Speaker Bio: Arun is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and Biophysics Interdepartmental Groups at the University of Guelph. Prior, he completed his MSc in Biophysics, also at University of Guelph, and his undergraduate training in Chemical and Bioengineering at McMaster University. His primary research interest is in developing mechanistic understanding of biological (environmental) phenomena, and his primary research tool is computational mathematics and simulation (eg. deterministic/stochastic models of microbial systems, optimization models for process simulation, data analysis/visualization). In particular, his PhD work centered around the development of the compuGUT - an open-source software tool for simulating process mechanism and interactions in the human colon; a project funded by an Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) grant.

Presentation Slides: PDF

Contact: A. J. Kearsley

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Last updated: 2015-06-17.