Date of Award

Summer 8-5-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Robert W. Harrison

Abstract

Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other complex diseases account for more than half of human mortality in the United States. Other diseases such as AIDS, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cerebrovascular ailments such as stroke not only augment this mortality but also severely deteriorate the quality of human life experience. In spite of enormous financial support and global scientific effort over an extended period of time to combat the challenges posed by these ailments, we find ourselves short of sighting a cure or vaccine. It is widely believed that a major reason for this failure is the traditional reductionist approach adopted by the scientific community in the past. In recent times, however, the systems biology based research paradigm has gained significant favor in the research community especially in the field of complex diseases. One of the critical components of such a paradigm is computational systems biology which is largely driven by mathematical modeling and simulation of biochemical systems. The most common methods for simulating a biochemical system are either: a) continuous deterministic methods or b) discrete event stochastic methods. Although highly popular, none of them are suitable for simulating multi-scale models of biological systems that are ubiquitous in systems biology based research. In this work a novel method for simulating biochemical systems based on a deterministic solution is presented with a modification that also permits the incorporation of stochastic effects. This new method, through extensive validation, has been proven to possess the efficiency of a deterministic framework combined with the accuracy of a stochastic method. The new crossover method can not only handle the concentration and spatial gradients of multi-scale modeling but it does so in a computationally efficient manner. The development of such a method will undoubtedly aid the systems biology researchers by providing them with a tool to simulate multi-scale models of complex diseases.

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