Team:UCL/Modeling

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<p class="major_title">NEURO-GENETHICS</p>
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<p class="major_title">DRY LAB</p>
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<p class="minor_title">Neuroethical Issues In Synthetic Biology</p>
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<p class="minor_title">Modelling The Treatment And Finding New Parts</p>
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Mathematical modelling provides a powerful tool for scientists of all disciplines, allowing inspection and manipulation of a system in ways which are unachievable in the lab. In the context of biology, we can use mathematical models to study the behaviour of a single cell or an entire ecosystem. In fact, inspecting a mathematical model is very much like a laboratory experiment – the main difference being that in modelling, the environment is artificial. <br><br>
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Over the last decade there has been mounting public interest in genetic engineering and the potential and pitfalls of associated emerging technologies. These technologies promise much, potentially even treatments for brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, and yet genetic modification of the brain is something many would feel uneasy about, despite the horrors it tries to mitigate. 'Neuro-genetic engineering' may slip over into other areas, including psychological therapy and cognitive enhancements, changing the way society views its minds forever.<br><br>
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An emotional piece of interactive art, this is a treacherous repository for users’ most precious memories, which highlights the cost of losing them.
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Mathematical modelling provides a powerful tool for scientists of all disciplines, allowing inspection and manipulation of a system in ways which are unachievable in the lab. In the context of biology, we can use mathematical models to study the behaviour of a single cell or an entire ecosystem. In fact, inspecting a mathematical model is very much like a laboratory experiment – the main difference being that in modelling, the environment is artificial.  
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Fiction and science can synergise into something altogether much more provocative, and so we ran a creative writing competition to let writers loose on the rich themes of our Human Practices.
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For all the complex calculations and mechanisms behind a model, it is without much worth if it cannot produce useful results. In general, 'useful results' are defined as successful predictions about the effects of modifying some parameter - if we can use a model to determine the effect of each variable upon the outcome, we can better design our system in the real world.  
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The brain is the the part of us that makes oneself one’s self. As such there are misgivings towards infringing on its natural sovereignty. We investigate the murky ethics surrounding various applications, from medicine to the enhancements.
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Since Westminster's iGEM team had not produced a model of their own, and their project has several similarities to ours, we have constructed an additional model, also in C#, and sent this to Westminster's team for them to use. The model simulates bed bugs moving randomly in a cubic room. One of their proposed "blood traps" is integrated into the simulation, which visually demonstrates bed bugs being attracted and then subsequently killed by the device.  
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In order to effectively collate our thoughts, those of the public and those of proefessionals on the issues raised in our ethics report, we conducted a series of interviews and exhibited our ideas on camera.
 
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We wanted to get to grips with the public upfront with our ideas on what the fusion between neuroscience and synthetic biology could become, starting with basic attitudes to both, and with special focus on Alzheimer’s disease.
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We examine the economic, social and medical feasibility of our proposed treatment, looking at resource allocation, the cost of research for Alzheimer's and the cost-benefit of spending on the ageing population.
 
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We conducted an online survey in order to gauge public opinion on various issues that comprise not only our project, but what our project could lead to.
 
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<p class="abstract_text">Using bioinformatics we can identify key genes whose dysfunction drives disease states. In so doing, we are should be able to come up with new parts that target these dysfunctional genes to increase the efficacy of synthetic biological constructs. 
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In order to test the waters for our Speed Debate, we opened discussion on the ‘neuro-genethics’ surrounding our project on TED Conversations.
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Latest revision as of 03:56, 5 October 2013

DRY LAB

Modelling The Treatment And Finding New Parts

Mathematical modelling provides a powerful tool for scientists of all disciplines, allowing inspection and manipulation of a system in ways which are unachievable in the lab. In the context of biology, we can use mathematical models to study the behaviour of a single cell or an entire ecosystem. In fact, inspecting a mathematical model is very much like a laboratory experiment – the main difference being that in modelling, the environment is artificial.

Click the abstracts below to read more.