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Astronomical immunology

The department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Limerick invites you to a seminar by Prof. Grant Lythe (University of Leeds): 

Title:  Astronomical immunology

Abstract: There are approximately 400000000000 T cells in your body, about the same as the number of stars in our galaxy. We cannot manually count, let alone examine the interior machinery of, many cells or stars in situ. Those cells and stars that we can see, we only see at one instant of their long lifetimes. Instead, we have to rely on extrapolation from small samples and on indirect measurements, deducing what we can about processes in the interior from observations of their surface, imaging and data analysis, and computational models.

T cells are produced in the thymus and circulate through a human body, using T-cell receptors to probe the surfaces of antigen-presenting cells they come into contact with. How many different types of T cells do we have? The number of T cells of one type is an integer that increases or decreases by one cell at a time, when a cell divides or a cell dies. Immune responses rely on encounters between T cells and dendritic cells in lymph nodes.

Stochastic models of immune system dynamics, describing millions of cells that interact with each other and with their environment, are more realistic than deterministic ones. Fortunately, stochastic models are also practical because analytical and numerical methods, and open-source software, are available.

This seminar will take place Friday, 8th September , at 4pm, in  Room A2-002.

If you have any questions regarding this seminar, please direct them to Iain Moyles (061 233726,

Supported by Science Foundation Ireland funding, MACSI - the Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry (, centred at the University of Limerick, is dedicated to the mathematical modelling and solution of problems which arise in science, engineering and industry in Ireland.


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