September 10, 2014

Upcoming DevoWorm talk to the OpenWorm group

This Friday (9/12) at 9am PDT, I will be presenting a talk to the OpenWorm consortium Journal Club on the DevoWorm project. For those of you who are unfamiliar, DevoWorm is a collaborative attempt to simulate and theoretically re-interpret C. elegans development.

Cover slide with a list of the DevoWorm collaborators, circa September 2014.

The structure of the talk will loosely follow the white paper, with some additional theoretical and translational information. We are also trying to organize/raise money for a "science hackathon", which would greatly improve the state of the project [1].

 An explanation of a scientific hackathon (sensu DevoWorm Collaboration).

The talk will also deal with the issue of whole-organism emulation. In this case, we are using a sparse representation of the organism to model developmental processes. The key is to balance tractability with biological realism. Sparko the Robotic Dog and the EPFL's Human Brain Project are used as examples.

We also discuss the potential usefulness of C. elegans emulations to biological problems. One problem we identified was the need to emulate and identify the precursors and mechanisms of phenotypic mutants. While our discussion of this will be limited to only a few slides, DevoWorm has the potential to model the possibility space of phenotypic mutants and perhaps even suggest developmental precursors to phenotypic mutations. 

If you are interested in attending, here is the Google Hangouts link. Look forward to a good presentation.

UPDATE 9/12:
The talk went very well. We also changed the name to "DevoWorm: raising the (Open)Worm". Lots of discussion about the potential for future collaboration and the regenerative capacity of C. elegans (or lack thereof). The talk was recorded to YouTube, and the link is here.

[1] Improvements largely involve physically bringing the group together, solving some problems related to data analysis, and perhaps even planning out additional data collection. Apparently, the term "hackathon" has a rather broad definition. But if you are interested in participating/helping to facilitate this, please contact me.

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