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DRACULA Research team

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Presentation

Dracula is a joint research team between Inria, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (UCBL) and CNRS (Institut Camille-Jordan (ICJ, UMR 5208) and Laboratoire de Biologie et Modélisation de la Cellule (LBMC, UMR 5239)).

The Dracula project is devoted to multi-scale modeling in biology and medicine, and more specifically to the development of tools and methods to describe multi-scale processes in biology and medicine. Applications include normal and pathological hematopoiesis (for example leukemia), immune response, and other biological processes, like: tissue renewal, morphogenesis, atherosclerosis, prion disease, hormonal regulation of food intake, and so on. Multi-scale modeling implies simultaneous modeling of several levels of descriptions of biological processes: intra-cellular networks (molecular level), cell behavior (cellular level), dynamics of cell populations (organ or tissue) with the control by other organs (organism) (see Figure ). Such modeling represents one of the major challenges in modern science due to its importance and because of the complexity of biological phenomena and of the presence of very different interconnected scales.

Scheme of multi-scale models of cell dynamics

Although multi-scale modeling holds a great potential for biology and medicine, and despite the fact that a variety of techniques exists to deal with such problems, the complexity of the systems poses new challenges and needs the development of new tools. Moreover, different biological questions usually require different types of multi-scale modeling. The expected results of these studies are numerous. On one hand, they will shed new light on the understanding of specific biological and medical questions (for instance, what is the behavior of hematopoietic stem cells under pathological conditions? Or how to efficiently stimulate an immune response in order to design new vaccines?). On the other hand, the modeling methods developed here for specific processes are relevant to study other complex biological systems. We pay a special attention on developing methods that are not restricted to one or two applications.

An important part of our researches is performed in close collaboration with biologists and physicians in order to stay in contact with the biological and medical goals. The presence, within the project, of a biologist (Olivier Gandrillon) who has acquired over the years the know-how required for interacting with mathematicians is probably one of the main assets of the project. He participates actively in many tasks of our program, stimulates interactions between members of the project and biologists, and everyone benefits from his expertise in molecular and cell biology.