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Research Abstracts Online
January - December 2011

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University of St. Thomas
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Mathematics

PI: Magdalena A. Stolarska

Mathematical Modeling of Cell Movement and Tissue Growth

The movement of individual biological cells and the growth of multicellular tissues are seemingly different biological processes. However, they can be modeled mathematically using very similar principles based on the theory of continuum mechanics. This researcher is continuing earlier work on modeling cell movement and is beginning to numerically investigate brain growth in an abnormal environment.

Cell movement plays an important role in various biological processes. In previous work, the goal was to model cell movement using a continuum approach and use this model to investigate the mechanical interaction between a moving cell and the surface on which it moves. The next step is to investigate how the location and chemical makeup of attachment binding sites on a surface affect cell shape. This will be done by introducing into the existing model additional equations describing the biochemical aspects of cell-surface interactions.

A second project is a numerical investigation of the intracranial stresses that develop during craniosynostosis. Craniosynostosis is a condition occurring in infants when the fibrous connections between skull plates fuse prematurely. This often leads to abnormal head growth and requires surgical revision. If surgery is not chosen, it is not clear whether stresses that develop during brain growth are significant enough to cause permanent damage, and therefore mathematical modeling of brain growth in such an environment is of interest to the medical community. The goal of this project is to solve the differential equations resulting from both of the proposed mathematical models using Comsol Multiphysics.