Jun XiaFollow

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mathematics and Statistics

First Advisor

Remus Osan

Second Advisor

Yichuan Zhao

Third Advisor

Xin Qi

Fourth Advisor

Gennady Cymbalyuk


The mechanisms that control growth processes in biology tissues have attracted continuous research interest despite their complexity. With the emergence of big data experimental approaches there is an urgent need to develop statistical and computational models to fit the experimental data and that can be used to make predictions to guide future research. In this work we apply statistical methods on growth process of different biological tissues, focusing on development of neuron dendrites and tumor cells.

We first examine the neuron cell growth process, which has implications in neural tissue regenerations, by using a computational model with uniform branching probability and a maximum overall length constraint. One crucial outcome is that we can relate the parameter fits from our model to real data from our experimental collaborators, in order to examine the usefulness of our model under different biological conditions. Our methods can now directly compare branching probabilities of different experimental conditions and provide confidence intervals for these population-level measures. In addition, we have obtained analytical results that show that the underlying probability distribution for this process follows a geometrical progression increase at nearby distances and an approximately geometrical series decrease for far away regions, which can be used to estimate the spatial location of the maximum of the probability distribution. This result is important, since we would expect maximum number of dendrites in this region; this estimate is related to the probability of success for finding a neural target at that distance during a blind search.

We then examined tumor growth processes which have similar evolutional evolution in the sense that they have an initial rapid growth that eventually becomes limited by the resource constraint. For the tumor cells evolution, we found an exponential growth model best describes the experimental data, based on the accuracy and robustness of models. Furthermore, we incorporated this growth rate model into logistic regression models that predict the growth rate of each patient with biomarkers; this formulation can be very useful for clinical trials. Overall, this study aimed to assess the molecular and clinic pathological determinants of breast cancer (BC) growth rate in vivo.