MS18: Immunobiology and Infection Subgroup

Wednesday, July 19, 10:30-12:30, Alpine Room


Amber Smith, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,
Judy Day, University of Tennessee,
Jessica Conway, Pennsylvania State University,

The Immunobiology and Infection Subgroup was created to bring together researchers who are interested in the modeling and analysis of immune processes in human disease and of host-pathogen interactions. We will first introduce the subgroup and discuss our goals for this inaugural symposium. Following this introduction, we will have two talks that will provide an overview of some of the research areas of our Subgroup. These will lay the foundation from which we will launch a discussion and exchange of ideas. We look forward to seeing you at this minisymposium and engaging with you in discussion.

Mathematical models of infection kinetics can quantify the rates of various processes, detail the time scales and mechanisms of pathogen control, identify novel mechanisms of host-pathogen interaction, assess efficacy of therapies, among others. However, limited data is often used to calibrate these models, which in turn reduces the mathematical and biological complexity that can be included and the questions that can be addressed. Nevertheless, accurate predictions are still possible, but knowledge of this accuracy (or inaccuracy) is unavailable unless follow-up experiments are completed. Here, I will use models of viral and viral-bacterial respiratory infections to illustrate how model-driven experiments can define additional biological mechanisms and highlight a model’s successes and failures. Finally, I will provide the foundation to further discuss the art of designing experiments, the integration of different types of data in immunological models, and the importance of understanding experimental details in model development and interpretation.

This talk will briefly outline some of the work that inspired the use of a tissue damage variable in mathematical models of infectious and noninfectious inflammation as a marker for health as well as a driver of inflammation. Beginning with the setting of systemic inflammation in sepsis-related scenarios of infection, this overview will go on to discuss recent modeling work in the setting of non-infectious trauma such as transplantation. The purpose of this talk is to present some guiding principles that are applicable in other areas of interest to members of this subgroup; for instance, immune function in wound healing, traumatic brain injury, and autoimmune disease. In addition, another aim of this talk is to provide a foundation from which to use small group brainstorming sessions to discuss where these topics intersect other areas of research both with respect to common ground as well as different scales and techniques.

Mathematical modeling is becoming heavily integrated into areas of Immunobiology and Infection. In addition, there has been a trend towards using more data-driven techniques, integrating different types of data, and validating model predictions experimentally. We invite you to join us in a round-table discussion within the contexts of modeling various aspects of immunobiology and infection and of integrating experimental and clinical data into these models in order to inform experimental design. We will also discuss education in terms of improving the knowledge and skill sets of students working in these areas, learning new skills to enhance one’s research area, and enhancing resource awareness. In conclusion, we will discuss the future activities of the Subgroup and solicit member input on the vision for this group. We invite you to think about the activities that can best benefit you and the field in terms of idea generation, network expansion, collaboration, and funding mechanisms. We hope that, together, our subgroup can become a powerful resource aimed at providing one another with relevant and current knowledge, feedback, connections, and camaraderie.