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MICDE Seminar: Denise Kirschner, Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan Medical School

November 12, 2020 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Venue: Zoom Event

Denise Kirschner

About Denise Kirschner: Dr. Kirschner received her Bachelors, Masters and PhD in applied mathematics from Tulane University. She did graduate work also at Los Alamos National Labs and a postdoctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University joint with the departments of Mathematics and Infectious Diseases. Over the past 25 years Dr. Kirschner has focused on questions related to models of host-pathogen interactions in infectious diseases. Her main focus has been to build models of persistent infections (e.g. Helicobacter pylori and Mycobacterium tuberculosis and HIV-1). Her goal is to understand the complex dynamics involved, together with how perturbations to this interaction (via treatment with chemotherapies or immunotherapies) can lead to prolonged or permanent health. For the past 20 years, her research focus has been on building multi-scale models to describe the host immune response to M. tuberculosis at multiple spatial and time scales and in multiple physiological compartments including lung, lymph nodes and blood.

To date, she have worked and collaborated with experimentalists generating data on TB with mouse, non-human primate and human studies. Denise has over 150 publications in top journals describing this work that spans topics from methodological to biological advancement. Dr. Kirschner currently serves (and has for the past 17 years) as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Theoretical Biology. She serves as the founding co-director of The Center for Systems Biology at the University of Michigan, an interdisciplinary center at the University of Michigan aimed to facilitate research and training between wet-lab and theoretical scientists. In 2016 she was elected as President-elect of the Society for Mathematical Biology and has served as its president from 2017-2020. Denise’s passion for mentoring students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty has been a major focus of her career, and her key mission is to promote both mathematics and family values in the scientific community.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a bacterium that infects 1/3 of the world today. While only 10% of infected individuals experience active tuberculosis disease, if left untreated infection results in death. The remainder of individuals harbor the bacteria in a clinically latent infection, and those individuals can experience reactivation of infection up to 10% per year. Our goal in a number of studies is to understand the role of the bacteria in initiating, sustaining and inhibiting the immune response during infection. Granulomas are a hallmark of tuberculosis infection arising within lungs of infected humans. Understanding the immune response that leads to formation of granulomas can help us better design therapies to control or clear infection. We use a hybrid multi-scale approach that is fine grained for spatial details to help uncover these dynamics paired with a coarse grained spatial model that allows us to capture the entire host dynamics. We use a combination of statistic and mathematical and engineering approaches to predict optimal treatments.

The MICDE Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 Seminar Series is open to all. University of Michigan faculty and students interested in computational and data sciences are encouraged to attend.

Watch the full webinar here.

Questions? Email


November 12, 2020
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
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Zoom Event