Elena Dimitrova (Clemson) & Melissa Kemp (GT): Modeling emergent patterning within pluripotent colonies through Boolean canalizing functions

Modeling emergent patterning

Profs. Melissa Kemp and Elena Dimitrova will investigate how stem cells pattern within colonies due to specific cell-cell communication.  Multicellular populations give rise to emergent features such as patterns based upon the collective communication between neighboring and distant cells. Transitions in early development from pluripotent systems to differentiated, structurally-ordered tissue provide an ideal testbed to study generalizable properties of cellular coordination. Prof. Kemp is a biomedical engineer whose lab has classified and quantified the dynamics of patterns that arise during initial loss of pluripotency among stem cell populations. Boolean canalization, a type of hierarchical clustering of the inputs of a Boolean or "logic gate" function, is Prof. Dimitrova’s area of expertise. They will use this novel and appropriate mathematical framework for modeling, prediction, and identification of the cues that direct stem cell into differentiated lineages. This collaboration will require developing theoretical and computational algebraic tools and testing the insight gained from analysis on stem cells that are engineered to produce Turing-like patterns.

A NSF-Simons MathBioSys Research Center