Modeling of Disruption of Glucose Metabolism in Breast Cancer Patients

To support their unrestricted growth, cancer cells require a permanent supply of glucose that can be obtained from cancer-mediated reprogramming of glucose/insulin metabolism in their host. The pathological mechanisms by which cancer cells exert their negative influence on host glucose/insulin metabolism remain poorly understood. Research by cancer biologists indicates that in breast cancer (and likely many others), the cancer cells secrete extracellular vesicles (EVs) that inhibit insulin production by the β-cells in the pancreas. Healthy insulin-dependent cells, such as skeletal muscle, fat cells and hepatic cells thereby have reduced ability to absorb glucose from the blood.
Experimental work is currently underway in the laboratory of our collaborator Dr. Emily Wang at the University of California San Diego that will elucidate the mechanisms by which breast cancer secreted EVs suppress insulin production and induce insulin resistance. Mathematical modeling and simulation will help to better understand the outcome of these experiments and, in addition, help to formulate new hypotheses and design new experiments. In the long run, breast cancer patients will profit from novel therapeutic strategies and the possibility of treatment of metabolic co-morbidities.

Mathematical Modeling of the Formation of the Chaetoceros/Vorticella Consortium

Chaetoceros/Vorticella (CV) is a fascinating planktonic consortium consisting of Chatoceros diatoms and Vorticella ciliates. CV is found in unexpected locations, for example in the nutrient-depleted tropical oceans where neither of the components would be likely to thrive. The symbiosis may provide additional benefits to the partners such as protection from predation by copepods and fish larvae.
Both components of CV are tiny. Chaetoceros colonies may be 1 mm in length, while a Vorticella cell is merely 0.1 mm long. It is surprising that they are able to form well-organized arrangements of up to 30 Vorticella on one ""carrier"" Chaetoceros. When assembled, the Vorticella exert stochastic rapid contractions probably in response to hydrodynamic perturbations. This allows the CV to swim and possibly to reach regions rich in light where it will conduct its photosynthesis.
Research has produced a multitude of observations of CV that now need to be interpreted and analyzed mathematically. The most straightforward hypothesis to be tested is that CV forms by accidental association of sticky Vorticella. An alternative hypothesis is that once a single association has formed, replication of both partners is the main maintenance mechanism.

Artificial Conventions: Design Research and Exhibition

The conventions that have been shaped over centuries in the field of architecture have served as a reliable medium for the design of buildings. Today those conventions persist, yet are reshaped by contemporary technologies that reshuffle priorities and create new entanglements that call into question the underpinnings of the design process order of things. The objective of the proposed research is to make explicit how certain emerging technologies (particularly machine learning and artificial intelligence) share both sympathies and frictions with accepted truths in architectural design. The expected output is a book of architectural drawings that explore historical architectural works through contemporary modes of production and the design and planning for a constructed installation to be exhibited in Spring 2020 in a SARUP affiliated space.

The work will be divided into three phases:
1. Research (of neural networks and algorithms to be employed in the project). Additionally, this research will be used to determine the scope of subsequent parts of the project.
2. Design (using a set of procedures developed by the faculty to develop a set of drawings and to assist in developing an architectonic installation).
3. Fabrication (of installation and exhibition).