March 3 2021 | 16h00-17h00 | Zoom

Speaker: Dr. Helena Todorov (UNIL)

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03.03.2021 | 16h00-17h00 | Helena Todorov, UNIL

Structure learning to unravel mechanisms of the immune system

Our body constantly has to defend itself against harmful pathogens. Luckily, we have a powerful protective mechanism called the immune system. The immune system is at the center of extensive studies, facilitated by the appearance of new technologies that allow to measure unprecedented amounts of features in thousands to millions of cells. This leads to large-scale, high-dimensional data that typically contain many sources of variability. New automated tools are therefore needed to analyse this type of complex data, and to extract interesting patterns from it. We applied and designed various structure learning methods to gain insight into the complex nature of immune cell differentiation in response to a disease. We extracted cell trajectories, gene regulatory networks, and graphs of interacting molecules that helped us to generate new medical hypotheses. The types of machine learning tools that we applied represent a real asset in the analysis of complex data and help to shed light on the immune system’s response to diseases that are still difficult to characterise.


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Our aim is to build a community of researchers working on diverse topics in mathematical and theoretical biology in Western Switzerland. We are planning to hold seminars approximately four times a year and to give a platform in particular to PhD students and postdocs. More advanced researchers are of course also welcome to join.