Rob J. de Boer
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The immune system is a fascinating complex system taking decisions on how to respond to a wide variety of stimuli, which vary from lethal pathogens to harmless proteins in the food. Decisions are remembered for life in the form of immunological memory. Pathogens are also fascinating complex systems that by their faster evolution can exploit properties of the immune system to elicit inappropriate immune reactions.
Most of the research in immunology is of a qualitative nature, describing novel cell types, molecules, and genes. The proper understanding of such a complex immune system also requires a more quantitative approach describing the various population sizes, the turnover rates of the cells within each population, their migration rates, and the rates at which cells form contacts with other cells. A major part of our work is to develop a more quantitative immunology by using in vivo labeling techniques and mathematical modeling, to describe the population dynamics of the major populations within the immune system. We also aim to quantify the diversity of lymphocyte repertoires, and the breadth of immune responses, by bioinformatic analysis of next generation sequencing data.
Teaching, honors, and other activities
I teach introductory courses in Theoretical Biology and Biological Modeling for biology students on the bachelor level, which results Ebooks that are publicly available. I am a co-founding member of the Utrecht Center for Quantitative Immunology, and fellow of the External Faculty of the Santa Fe Institute.
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