Call for participation: Workshop on Statistical Mechanics of Biological Cooperativity

Statistical Mechanics of Biological Cooperativity
22-25 May 2013 Ferry Stockholm-Mariehamn and Hotel Arkipelag, Mariehamn, Åland

Registration deadline: April 1, 2013


The meeting addresses applications of statistical mechanics to biological cooperativity, from molecules to populations.

The scientific interface between physics and biology is one of the most active areas of scientific research, as shown by its rapid evolution during the recent years.
Biological cooperativity roughly includes all action in biology that cannot be explained linearly, from synergistic interactions on the molecular level up to games and strategic interactions in populations.

The regulation of gene expression is in its simplest form akin to a switch with the binding of transcription factor to DNA playing the role of a relay. However, as has become increasingly clear, the generic picture is more global and more intricate e.g. the rate of transcription of a gene generally depends on transcription factors acting in cooperation, on epigenetic changes and marks and even on the three-dimensional location of chromosomes in the nucleus. All these lead to interesting problems in statistical mechanics ranging from deterministic and stochastic models of gene expression, including Wentzel-Freidlin theory for rare events, to models of nucleosome positioning by entropic effects up to the fractal globule model and other exotic long-lived by only metastable polymer states. Signalling is the process whereby biological information is transferred from the outside of the cell to regulate internal processes. Statistical mechanics has been used to construct models of !
chemotaxis, of quorum sensing, and to lymphocyte activation in response to antigens. It is well known that there is a close analogy between non-equilibrium statistical mechanics and models in evolutionary and population genetics, where selection and mutations play the role of drift, and genetic drift, the (partly) random selection of individuals that survive from one generation to the next plays the role of noise. Over the last decade the fundamental understanding of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics has been revolutionized by the fluctuation relations, which hold also far from equilibrium; these have only very recently been introduced in population genetics, and may there have a much larger impact.

Meeting information

The meeting is generously supported by NORDITA, the Aalto Science Institute, and the National Graduate School in Materials Physics (Finland) NGSMP, and is carried out with the active participation of the European scientific coordination network Evolution, Regulation and signalling (ERS).

The venue was Hotel Arkipelag in downtown Mariehamn, the capital of the province of Åland, Finland. The Åland archipelago, lying between Sweden and mainland Finland, is easily reachable by ferry from Stockholm (Sweden), from Turku (Finland), and from Helsinki (Finland). In addition, there are flights from Sweden and Finland. Note that the program starts on a ferry from Stockholm, so your presence on that is important information for the organizers.

There is no workshop fee.

Travel on the ferry from Stockholm to Mariehamn, including dinner on the ferry, is free for all participants, as are coffee and lunches at the Workshop. In addition, a number of grants can be offered, to PhD students and to others, to cover accommodation in Mariehamn and, in special cases, travel to Stockholm. If you need such support, indicate to when registering.


Prof. Erik Aurell, Prof. Mikko Alava, Dr. Ralf Eichhorn, Prof. Juho Rousu

Invited speakers include

Uri Alon Weizmann
Ulrich Gerland LMU Munchen
Vincent Hakim ENS-Paris
Oskar Hallatschek MPI, Germany
Sui Huang ISB, Seattle, USA
Mogens Jensen Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen
Olivier Martin U. Paris-Sud
Ville Mustonen Sanger Centre
Kim Sneppen Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen
Massimo Vergassola Institut Pasteur
Aleksandra Walczak ENS-Paris
Rein ten Wolde AMOLF, The Netherlands