Organisers: L. Stougie en S.M. Verduyn Lunel
The section Mathematics of NWO-Exact organises in 2001 a series of seminars and a winter school on mathematics and biology. The motivation for this initiative comes from the need to investigate the possibilities for mathematics to participate in new research programs in the field of biological sciences (like the NWO Bio-Molecular Informatics Program). The central organisation of the special year consists of Leen Stougie and Sjoer Verduyn Lunel. In coordination with local organisers 9 days will be organised on location. Subjects have been selected that are of interest both to mathematics and to biological sciences. The aim is to provide mathematicians an overview of the problems encountered by biologists, biochemists, and researchers in medical sciences on the one hand, and to stimulate contacts between the two research groups on the other hand. The special year will be concluded with a "winterschool" for advanced master students and PhD-students.
More information can be found on the web-site, including information on related activities: http://www.cwi.nl/projects/NWO-jaarthema.
The motivation for organising such a special years is given by the fact that biological sciences have seen an overwhelming development since the unraveling of the genetic code. Both on molecular and on cellular level enormous knowledge has been acquired with important applications in biomedical and agricultural sciences. Knowledge about individual behaviour of enzymes, cells and organisms is just a first step in understanding the laws that govern the complex collective behaviour of populations of such individuals. On the macroscopic level processes in living systems are still poorly understood. To reach for deep insights a multi-disciplinary effort will be required from mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry and biology. The time seems to ask for initialising such an effort from out mathematics.
On almost all universities in the Netherlands interdisciplinary research with life sciences is started. This holds as well for the research institutes CWI (Centre for Mathematics and Computer Science) in Amsterdam and EURANDOM in Eindhoven. In recent years the NWO-program on Non-Linear Systems has had a major impact on collaboration of mathematicians, physicists and life scientists. Within this program important results have been achieved, mainly in the field of population dynamics, a research area within ecology.
It is crucial that these successful multi disciplinary initiatives will be continued, covering a much wider spectrum of life sciences, and that mathematical research attempts to relate to the Bio-informatics initiative of NWO. It is clearly very important that the mathematical research groups pay major attention to all these new possibilities for applied research, and it is evident that close contacts with biologists and biochemists will be indispensable. In that sense there are enough opportunities. The Dutch research groups in the field of biology and biochemistry have an excellent international reputation.
For the organisation of the Special Year we have chosen for orientation on the wide spectrum of mathematics (and computer science) on the one hand and on a comparably wide spectrum of life sciences on the other hand. Without doubt, a successful start will generate returns in the form of interesting and relevant mathematical problems, interesting publications, a name on the map of a new research area, financial support through research projects and last but not least hopefully an attraction of the field for future students.
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