The Physics of Cellular Identity

Condensed Matter lunchtime seminar

The Physics of Cellular Identity

  • Event time: 1:00pm until 2:00pm
  • Event date: 29th January 2018
  • Speaker: (School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh)
  • Location: Room 2511,

Event details

All cells in our body share the same genetic material as they descend from a common ancestor, the embryonic stem cell. This means that a skin cell and a neuron are genetically identical and yet they perform widely different functions. The specialisation of cells into tissues is guided by "epigenetic" factors which can operate "beyond the genes" and allow the regulation of gene expression irrespectively of the underlying DNA sequence. Even though it is broadly accepted that epigenetic factors operate in concert with 3D chromosome folding to decide and maintain cellular fate, the underlying biophysical principles are far from fully understood. How are epigenetic factors first established along the genome? How do cells remember their fate after division? What are the mechanisms regulating the change in cell identity, e.g. during reprogramming or ageing? In this talk, I will review our recent efforts to come up with simple physical models for these complex biological questions and I will present some of our key results.

About Condensed Matter lunchtime seminars

This is a weekly series of informal talks given primarily by members of the soft condensed matter and statistical mechanics groups, but is also open to members of other groups and external visitors. The aim of the series is to promote discussion and learning of various topics at a level suitable to the broad background of the group. Everyone is welcome to attend..

Find out more about Condensed Matter lunchtime seminars.