Prof Martin Howard

Project Leader
Computational and Systems Biology

Our group mathematically models biological systems at the cellular level, with a focus on understanding fundamental biological mechanisms. 

Our approach is to construct simple models that can nevertheless make surprising and counter-intuitive predictions to be tested experimentally. The group's approach is highly interdisciplinary, and relies heavily on techniques from statistical physics as well as on close collaboration with experimental groups both at the John Innes Centre and elsewhere. 

An emerging focus within the group is the use of analogue versus digital control in biology. Specific recent topics for research have included digital epigenetic dynamics during vernalization, analogue arithmetic division in starch metabolism, cell size control in fission yeast and low copy number plasmid segregation in bacteria. 


Tel: 01603 450892

Cause or Consequence? Scientists help to settle an epigenetic debate

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How Plants Remember Winter, and Other Stories

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How size splits cells

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Mathematical modelling disproves long-held view of bacterial cell cycle

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Selected Publications

Ietswaart R., Szardenings F., Gerdes K., Howard M. (2014)

Competing ParA structures space bacterial plasmids equally over the nucleoid

PLoS Computational Biology 10 p e1004009

Publisher’s version: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004009

Recent Publications

Yang H., Howard M., Dean C. (2016)

Physical coupling of activation and derepression activities to maintain an active transcriptional state at FLC.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113 p9369-74

Publisher’s version: 10.1073/pnas.1605733113

Wu Z., Ietswaart R., Liu F., Yang H., Howard M., Dean C. (2016)

Quantitative regulation of FLC via coordinated transcriptional initiation and elongation.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113 p218-23

Publisher’s version: 10.1073/pnas.1518369112

Berry S., Hartley M., Olsson T. S., Dean C., Howard M. (2015)

Local chromatin environment of a Polycomb target gene instructs its own epigenetic inheritance.

eLife 4 pe07205

Publisher’s version: 10.7554/eLife.07205

Angel A., Song J., Yang H., Questa J. I., Dean C., Howard M. (2015)

Vernalizing cold is registered digitally at FLC.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112 p41464151

Publisher’s version: 10.1073/pnas.1503100112

Scialdone A., Howard M. (2015)

How plants manage food reserves at night: quantitative models and open questions

Frontiers in Plant Science 6 p204

Publisher’s version: 10.3389/fpls.2015.00204

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Latest Jobs

Postdoctoral Researcher

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Martin Howard

  • Scott Berry Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Giuseppe Facchetti Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Robert Ietswaart Postgraduate Student


Institute of Physics Tom Duke Lecture Prize, 2014


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