Mathematical biology at the Mittag-Leffler Institut
Yours truly has just come from a short stay at the Mittag-Leffler Institut in Stockhom. The Mittag-Leffler Institut is based on the former residence of the renowned mathematician and entrepreneur Gustaf Mitta-Leffler. The place is … well, here’s a few thousands of words in the shape of pictures.
Indeed a great place to work, meet with other mathematicians and talk about mathematical biology. I managed to catch up with Jacob Scott to discuss how agent-based models and spatial genomics could be used to investigate GBM habitats and how tumor-microenvironmental interactions can drive the disease.
I also had a great time talking to Artem Kaznatcheev, whom I have been working with on social learning in the context of cancer. He has written extensively about it in his blog (here and here) and we also have a preprint that discusses many related matters and the type of cancer we are applying our ideas on (here).
Philip Gerlee is a fellow game theoretician and mathematical oncologist and has spent the last few months thinking hard about spatial game theory. Fika, and later a blackboard, were required for me to follow his approach to combine off-lattice agent-based modeling with an analytical approximation that will allow him to investigate games on space without costly simulations.
Finally, I also got to meet with mathematical modellers I did not know before my visit. A good example is Nils Baas from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Nils has been working with biologists like Arnold Levine and has come with some thought provoking ideas of how higher-order structures can help us understand how tumors get started and, importantly, how small perturbations could be utilised, at least theoretically, to either restore tumors to some normality or at least make them more likely to be attacked by the immune system. While many of these ideas will require some effort before they yield a clinically applicable result, they are a good example of how unconventional thinking can help us tackle cancer in different ways than those we keep using (often without much success) in cancer centers across the world.