Bioinformatices And Biosystems Modelling-h272

Bioinformatics and Mathematical Biology

Mathematics, statistics and computing provide the common language for the interdisciplinary research challenges of modern biology. Our expertise crosses traditional subject boundaries, across biological scales ranging from molecules to ecosystems. Links to YCCSA and joint appointments with Mathematics and Computer Science further bridge the gaps between disciplines.


The dynamics of biological networks provide a strong unifying theme, ranging from evolutionary, ecological and social scales to genomic, metabolic, and biochemical levels. The benefits to society are similarly diverse, combining short-term practicality with longer-term changes to understanding.

Sustainable food
and fuel
Impacting on health and disease

Marine ecosystems graph

Marine ecosystems and sustainable fisheries

social networks - Dan Franks

The importance of social networks

replacing lab testing

Reducing and replacing animal tests

Examples of Bioinformatics and Mathematical Biology projects

Understanding the mechanisms of viral assembly

New mathematics is unlocking the secrets of how viruses protect and replicate, and how they infect new cells. Our models capture the intricate interactions between RNA viral capsids, providing important insights into viral evolution, infection and assembly. Applications range from anti-viral drug design to bio-nanotechnology.

Networks, diversity and stability

Our work ranges from theoretical studies of biochemical, cellular and ecological networks to more practical applications such as resilience of biodiversity and ecosystem function under climate challenges. For example, we are investigating the role of polydomy (having multiple nests) in colonies of ants in the National Trust properties in the Peak Distict National Park – does this feature make colonies more resilient to environmental change?

Academic staff associated with Bioinformatics and Mathematical Biology

Dr Leo Caves, Senior lecturer: modelling and simulation of complex biosystems; biomolecular self-assembly; emergent properties of artificial chemistries; exploratory data analysis and visualisation. Based in YCCSA.

Dr Kanchon Dasmahapatra, Senior lecturer: speciation in heliconiine and ithomiine butterflies; Müllerian mimicry; high-throughput sequencing; genome-wide patterns of divergence, adaptive introgression, and genomic exchange between species.

Professor Katherine Denby: disease resistance, gene regulatory networks, synthetic biology, breeding disease resistant crops, plant defence, plant-pathogen interactions, computational biology, network modelling

Professor Calvin Dytham: evolution of dispersal; theoretical and individual-based modelling; evolution in dynamic and structured habitats including range expansions and invasions; spread of human diseases; ageing and the evolution of “suicide genes”.

Dr Daniel Franks, Lecturer, joint appointment with Computer Science: computational models of ecology and evolution; network analysis, with a focus on animal association networks and network sampling; predator-prey interactions, with a focus on warning signals and mimicry. Based in YCCSA.

Dr Daniel Jeffares; Lecturer, genome evaluation; high-throughput sequencing; population genomics; fission yeast; parasite genomics; quantitative genetics.

Professor Richard Law, Emeritus: sustainable harvesting; plant ecology; community dynamics and evolutionary ecology.

Dr Jon Pitchford, Reader: joint appointment with Mathematics: stochastic and nonlinear dynamical systems and statistical modelling in ecology and evolution; marine ecosystems and fisheries; network stability and complexity; toxicology; epidemiology; plankton dynamics. Based in YCCSA.

Dr Elva Robinson, Lecturer in ecology: organisation of ant societies; theoretical and individual-based modelling of community-level behaviour; Radio-Frequency IDentification (RFID) technology; robustness and resilience in networks; self-organisation and decentralised control in complex systems. Based in YCCSA.

Dr Gavin Thomas, Senior Lecturer: mechanisms used by human pathogens to utilise host-derived sialic acid; transport across the inner membrane of bacteria; constraint-based modelling of obligate symbiosis between bacteria and their insect hosts.

Professor Reidun Twarock, joint appointment with Mathematics: structure and assembly of viruses; symmetry and computational methods for virus architecture and capsid structure; internal RNA organisation and feedbacks; assembly  pathways via energy landscapes. Based in YCCSA.

Professor Mark Williamson, Emeritus: biological invasions and the impact of the introduced species.

Dr Jamie Wood,  Senior lecturer: joint appointment with Mathematics: complexity and emergence in biologically inspired models; computational and statistical mechanics methodologies; Daisyworld; quantitative genetics; investigating flocking and herding behaviour in animals, and network rewiring; quorum sensing and biofilm formation; biochemical network modelling. Based in YCCSA.

Professor J Peter W Young  Emeritus: Population genetics, molecular phylogeny and comparative genomics of rhizobia and other bacteria; molecular ecology and diversity of mycorrhizal fungi; bioinformatics and environmental genomics; biologically-inspired computing.

 Recent news


Playing the numbers game - why Jellicoe got his maths right at the Battle of Jutland

 SAPN tiling


Using mathematics to improve human health

 E8 world

Stepping beyond our 3D world

Research Centres linked to Bioinformatics and Mathematical Biology

York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis (YCCSA)

Examples of high profile publications

Adaptive prolonged postreproductive life span in killer whales.  Foster et al. 2012, Science

Reconsidering the Consequences of Selective Fisheries. Garcia et al. 2012, Science

Disentangling nestedness from models of ecological complexity. James et al. 2012, Nature

Butterfly genome reveals promiscuous exchange of mimicry adaptations among species. Dasmahapatra et al. 2012, Nature