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Hopfield barriers and the role of energy expenditure in cellular information processing

Speaker: Jeremy Gunawardena, PhD
Department of Systems Biology
Harvard Medical School

The Hopfield barrier for an information processing task is the fundamental limit to how well that task can be achieved by a mechanism that operates at thermodynamic equilibrium, without energy expenditure. It is named in honour of John Hopfield, who first pointed out the limit for the task of substrate discrimination in his famous paper on kinetic proofreading. I will describe our work on the Hopfield barrier for the sharpness of input-output responses and the realisation that such barriers may be universal and model-independent. I will also try to convey how complicated and interesting life becomes away from equilibrium. 


Speaker Bio:
Dr. Gunawardena is a pure mathematician by training with a long-standing interest in using mathematics to understand complex systems. I spent several years in industrial research studying computing systems before being drawn to post-genomic systems biology, where true complexity is found. My lab at Harvard Medical School studies cellular information processing using a combination of experimental and mathematical methods. We have become broadly concerned with developing theoretical foundations for analysing molecular mechanisms and have a particular interest in protein post-translational modification and eukaryotic gene regulation.


Host: Milo Lin, PhD

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