Events Summer 2020

Theoretically Speaking — The Mathematical Essence of Aging

Jul. 30, 2020 11:00 am12:30 pm

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Uri Alon (Weizmann Institute of Science)


Zoom webinar (video available below)

Large-scale medical data are so complex that guiding principles are needed to understand them. In this talk, Uri Alon will describe a research project that develops mathematical models of physiological systems geared towards simplicity and understandability by using a small number of key well-studied variables, and then tests specific predictions using a unique nationwide medical-record database with 50 million life years. 

His presentation will focus on two examples: (1) How this approach reveals widespread seasonality in human hormones, with a peak season for growth, reproduction and stress-adaptation in late winter. (2) How we can understand core processes of aging using a stochastic equation for damage accumulation. This explains the incidence of a wide range of age-related diseases, and provides novel mechanisms for several diseases of unknown origin. The approach points towards how to design optimal treatments for aging, starting at old age, that can reduce the frequency of a multitude of age-related diseases by addressing their core underlying process.

Uri Alon earned his BSc in physics and mathematics, and his MSc in physics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1989. He was awarded his PhD in physics from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1996, and was a postdoctoral fellow in experimental biology in the departments of physics and molecular biology at Princeton University.

Professor Alon works at the interface of physics and biology, and is one of the founders of the field of systems biology. He has made influential discoveries, chief among them that biological networks are made of repeating circuit patterns called network motifs. His team includes physicists and biologists working together to understand the principles of the molecular systems that guide the decisions of our bodies’ cells. He also studies principles of human behavior using concepts from theater and accurate physics measurements and mathematical models. Professor Alon has received many awards such as the 2014 Nakasone Prize awarded by the Human Frontiers Science Project, for a breakthrough in the life sciences for his work on network motifs, and the 2017 Jacques Solvay Chair in Physics.

Theoretically Speaking is a lecture series highlighting exciting advances in theoretical computer science for a broad general audience. Events are free and open to the public. No special background is assumed. The lecture will be held via Zoom webinar. Please use the Q&A feature to ask questions. This lecture will be livestreamed and will be viewable thereafter on this page and our YouTube channel.