COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES Department of Mathematics and Statistics
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Mathematics Colloquium: "Mathematical Models of Biological Markers"


4:10 pm Neill 5W

Dr. Chris Remien

Abstract: Indirect measurements are ubiquitous in the life sciences because it is often impossible or impractical to directly measure the process of interest. I will show how dynamic mathematical models of biological systems can aid interpretation of biological markers, focusing on the dynamics of acetaminophen (APAP, Tylenol) overdose, stable isotope signatures, and metabolism of toxins by gut microbes. APAP is one of the most common drugs on the planet. While safe in therapeutic doses APAP, is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the developed world. I will present a mathematical model of APAP overdose that can be used to estimate time since overdose, overdose amount, and need for liver transplant from measurable markers of liver injury at the time of hospital admission. Similarly, stable isotopes are used by ecologists and forensic scientists as markers of diet and movement patterns. I will show how, with suitable mathematical models, stable isotope ratios of the hair of a murder victim were used to reconstruct the victims movement history in the time preceding death. Finally, if time allows, I will introduce a new project that involves modeling the contribution of gut microbes to the metabolism of toxins in mammalian diets, focusing on oxalate, a common plant secondary compound and a primary constituent of kidney stones, as a model toxin.