Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology


by Jim Henle

March 14th, 2007

On Saturday, April 21, a day-long symposium will be held at Harvard on "New Directions in Quantitative Biology". Sponsored by Harvard’s Division of Life Sciences and hosted by MCB, the Symposium reflects the increasing importance of quantitative approaches in the biological sciences.  One of the meeting’s organizers, Prof. David Nelson, who has a shared appointment with MCB, Physics and the SEAS, notes that "[b]iology is becoming increasingly quantitative, especially as it draws on tools and insights from neighboring disciplines such as materials science, chemical biology, applied mathematics, statistics and physics."  Hence the usefulness of gathering in one event a spectrum of quantitative approaches.

The fertility of putting such diverse fields in tandem with biological research is very much evident in the Symposium line-up.  For example, Eric C. Greene of Columbia will speak on his research using single molecule electron microscopy to study protein-DNA interactions, while Celeste Nelson of Princeton has enlisted quantitative engineering approaches to study tissue development. 

In all, the nine separate talks will provide a glimpse at a constellation of emerging approaches in contemporary biological work.  The meeting organizers express their hope that the ramifications will be felt widely.  As Prof. Nelson notes, "The Symposium on New Directions in Quantitative Biology, although sponsored by the Division of Life Sciences and the Department of Molecular Biology, was organized in the hope that the entire Harvard community might benefit from a day of talks by leading practitioners in this increasingly interdisciplinary science."

The Symposium will be held Saturday, April 21, from 8:30 am to 5:15 pm in the Jefferson Laboratory Building lecture hall at 17A Oxford Street, Cambridge. You can register here. For registrants, lunch will be provided; parking is available on request.

The event is sponsored by the Division of Life Sciences; additional support from MCB,  the daVinci Center, FAS Center for Systems Biology, and the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, Harvard University.