MATH 499 VIGRE Seminar: Mathematical Models in Developmental Biology

Meeting:  Tuesday, 4 pm, Herman Brown Hall, 4th Floor

Spring 2006 Tentative Schedule:


T January 17th


Organizational Meeting

T January 24th



Drosophila Development

T January 31st



Protein System Program

T February 7th



Papers 1), 2), & 3)

T February 14th



Papers 4) & 5)

T February 21st



Papers 6) & 7)

T February 28th



Program data/results/discussion

T March 7th


Papers 8), 9)


T March 14th


Spring Break

T March 21st


Papers 10), 11)

T March 28th


Results update, comparison of data with published papers

T April 4th




T April 11th




T April 18th




T April 25th




End of Semester



Fall 2005 presentations

Spring 2005 presentations

Fall 2004 presentations



1)      Dynamics of Drosophila embryonic patterning network perturbed in space and time using microfluidics - Diane

2)      Morphogens: precise outputs from a variable gradient - Diane

3)      Morphogen gradient from a noisy source - Diane

4)      The interpretation of morphogen gradients - Trevor

5)      Diffusion and scaling during early embryonic pattern formation - Trevor

6)      Finding the center reliably: robust patterns of developmental gene expression - Tim

7)      Dynamic control of positional information in the early Drosophila embryo – Tim

8)      Bicoid determines sharp and precise target gene expression in the Drosophila embryo - Katri

9)      Shaping BMP morphogen gradients in the Drosophila embryo and pupal wing - Katri

10)  Engineering gene networks to emulate Drosophila embryonic pattern formation - Nick

11)  BMP signalling: synergy and feedback create a step gradient - Nick

12)  Topology and robustness in the Drosophila segment polarity network –



Protein System Program


Here’s the good coefficient files we have found for the 4-protein system:




Questions we’d like to answer:


  1. Is this actually a 3-protein system?
  2. Is it robust to other initial conditions (vary bicoid by small random perturbations, etc.)?
  3. Is it scale invariant?
  4. Can we locally vary parameters?



Basic ‘How-To’


What are we studying?

In this seminar, we are looking at models for the genetic regulatory network that serves as the basis for Drosophila segmentation.  We are studying some of the basic models for this process, as well as reading current biological research papers.  We are also looking at exploring this new notion of robustness, hoping to mimic the naturally stable biological system in a mathematical model. 




1 credit hour = attend weekly seminars AND present one paper

3 credit hours = attend weekly seminars, present one paper, AND work on a project over semester



Email Heather Hardway (hardway at or TJ Hitchman (theron at


Conferences/Summer Opportunities for Undergraduates

47th Annual Drosophila Research Conference – March 29th – April 2nd, 2006, right here in Houston!

Santa Fe Institute – REU, summer school

2006 Undergraduate Summer Research Program in Mathematical Biology – Penn State Erie

PCMI – Park City Utah/IAS summer program in low dimensional topology

Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute – summer program

Systems Biology Dynamics – summer program at McGill University

Mathematical Biosciences Institute – summer program

NIH – summer internship program




PowerPoint of Drosophila Development 101

Timetable of early Drosophila development



Reinitz Lab Homepage