Mathematical Models of the Retina and In Silico Experiments: Shedding Light on Vision Loss
Erika Camacho (University of Arizona)
MSRI: Baker Board Room
Mathematical modeling has been used to study diverse biological topics ranging from protein folding to cell interactions to interacting populations of humans but has only recently been used to study the physiology of the eye. In recent years, computer (in silico) experiments have given researchers invaluable insights and in some cases have re-directed experimental research and theory. In this talk I will give a brief overview of the relevant physiology of the eye as it pertains to Retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a group of inherited degenerative eye diseases that characterized by the premature death of both rod and cone photoreceptors often resulting in total blindness. With mathematics and in silico experiments, we explore the experimentally observed results highlighting the delicate balance between the availability of nutrients and the rates of shedding and renewal of photoreceptors needed for a normal functioning retina. This work provides a framework for future physiological investigations potentially leading to long-term targeted multi-faceted interventions and therapies dependent on the particular stage and subtype of RP under consideration. The mathematics presented will be accessible to an undergraduate math audience and the biology will be at the level of a novice (and with a little help from Dr. Seuss).