The Howard group combines simple, predictive mathematical modelling with long-lasting experimental collaborations, to dissect biological mechanisms too complex to unravel by experiments alone.
The group is currently focusing on three main areas;
- How cells remember past events, through epigenetic memory systems
- How cells control their size, through sizer mechanisms
- Spatiotemporal protein dynamics
Previous high-profile work in the group has revealed a reaction-diffusion mechanism for mid-cell division in E. coli, surface area-based dynamics of a cell sizer molecule in fission yeast, an arithmetic division mechanism for metabolic timing and an all-or-nothing epigenetic switching mechanism, with epigenetic gene silencing directly antagonised by transcription.
Yang H., Berry S., Olsson T. S. G., Hartley M., Howard M., Dean C. (2017)Distinct phases of Polycomb silencing to hold epigenetic memory of cold inArabidopsis.Science (357)Publisher's version: 10.1126/science.aan1121
Berry S., Dean C., Howard M. (2017)Slow Chromatin Dynamics Allow Polycomb Target Genes to Filter Fluctuations in Transcription Factor Activity.Cell Systems (4)Publisher's version: 10.1016/j.cels.2017.02.013
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)Publisher's version: 10.7554/eLife.07205
Martin has a funded PhD position available in the Marie-Curie network ‘Predictive Epigenetics: Fusing Theory and Experiment’. The project ‘Combining analogue and digital modes of gene regulation’ would suit any physicist or mathematician interested in engaging with deep problems in molecular biology.
Enquiries to join the group from interested postgraduate and postdoctoral scientists are always welcomed.
Fellowship and PhD studentship positions can potentially be funded by the BBSRC, EU or John Innes Centre.