School of Mathematics

Ben MacArthur

Stochastic models of stem cells

There is a long-running debate amongst stem cell biologists over stochastic versus instructive models of stem cell dynamics. In this talk I will discuss the background to this problem and show some recent data from differentiation of pluripotent stem cells toward neural progenitors which favours the stochastic perspective. Along the way I will also discuss some of the problems associated with making measurements of stochastic systems and I will show how the act of measuring using fluorescence reporters can disturb the dynamics of the system being measured, thereby presenting a basic measurement problem in cell biology. I will summarise with some suggested areas for further work that may benefit from increased collaboration between experimentalists, physicists and mathematicians.