QBIOX – Quantitative Biology in Oxford – is a new network that brings together biomedical and physical scientists from across the University who share a commitment to making biology and medicine quantitative. A wide range of bioscience research fields are interested in the behaviour of populations of cells: how they work individually and collectively, how they interact with their environment, how they repair themselves and what happens when these mechanisms go wrong. At the cell and tissue levels, similar processes are at work in areas as diverse as developmental biology, regenerative medicine and cancer, which means that common tools can be brought to bear on them.
QBIOX’s focus is on mechanistic modelling: using maths to model biological processes and refining those models in order to answer a particular biological question. Researchers now have access to more data than ever before, and using the data effectively requires a joined-up approach. It is this challenge that has encouraged Professors Ruth Baker, Helen Byrne and Sarah Waters from the Mathematical Institute to set up QBIOX. The aim is to help researchers with the necessary depth and range of specialist knowledge to open up new collaborations, and share expertise and knowledge, in order to bring about a step-change in understanding in these areas. In regenerative medicine, for example, QBIOX has brought together a team of people from both MPLS and Medical Sciences who are working on problems at the level of basic stem cell science right through to translational medicine that will have real impacts on patients.
A look at the list of QBIOX collaborators demonstrates that Oxford researchers from a wide range of backgrounds are already involved: from maths, statistics, physics, computer science and engineering, through to pathology, oncology, cardiology and infectious disease. QBIOX is encouraging any University researcher with an interest in quantitative biology to join the network. It runs a programme of activities to catalyse interactions between members. For example, QBIOX’s termly colloquia offer opportunities for academics to showcase research that is of interest to network members, and there are regular smaller meetings that look in detail at specific topics. QBIOX also has funding for researchers who would like to run small meetings to scope out the potential for using theoretical and experimental techniques to tackle new problems in the biosciences.
The QBIOX website has details of all the activities run by the network, as well as relevant events taking place across the University. If you have events you would like to feature here, just complete the contact form. You can also sign up to be a collaborator and to receive QBIOX’s termly newsletter.