Mathematics is the key and door to the sciences – Galileo Galeili.

This 15th century quote is the most applicable thought in the era of interdisciplinary fields. I know that every Biology major student has a “characteristic attitude” towards Mathematics. But trust me if you know Mathematics, it will give you an edge in your career as a Scientist in the Life Science field. Recently, I have realized a great importance of learning Mathematics and how it can change our perspective towards Biology and Research and Development.

This article is the third in the series of “Synthetic Biology” and I am going to focus on the relation between Math and Biology. As I have mentioned earlier, Science is an interdisciplinary field, and all the aspiring scientists should be open to expanding their knowledge and embrace the idea of learning all the subjects that make up the backbone of their field.

We all know that Mathematics has its application in practically every aspect of life, so how is it useful in Biology? You will be be amazed to know that all leading researches in healthcare is being carried out using Mathematical models. Mathematics provide a better understanding of a disease. It also can predict the effect of new drugs under clinical trials. It’s not only the doctors nowadays who save a patient’s life but also a person sitting in front of a computer desk who works on algorithms and models to come up with new drugs.

How does a Mathematical model work in cases of diseases? Mathematical models can project how diseases progress. Models use some basic assumptions and mathematical functions to find parameters for various infectious diseases and use these parameters to calculate the effects (i.e. Cancer modelling).

Cancer is a class of diseases characterized by out-of-control cell growth and tissue invasion. Because cancer initiation seems to depend on a series of genetic mutations affecting intrinsic cellular programs, to date, the vast majority of cancer research has focused on the identification and characterization of these genetic and molecular properties of cancer cells themselves.

However, tumours are also heterogeneous cellular entities whose growth is dependent upon dynamic interactions among the cancer cells. All of these interactive processes act together to control cell phenotypic behaviours such as proliferation, apoptosis, and migration. There is increasing consensus that these dynamic interactions cannot be investigated purely by using biological experiments, since experimental complexity usually restricts the accessible spatial and temporal scales of observations. Thus, mathematical models comes into picture. These models can be created virtually using various softwares and simulations can be run to check the progress of the disease. Mathematical modelling can be applied to predict epidemics of infectious diseases as well.

So, gear up and learn Math. Find out which topic is applicable in your field and master it. Here are few more applications of Mathematics in Biology.

References
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3710332/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3883359/