Dr. Garrett M. Odell is an applied mathematician and theoretical biologist who makes and tests mathematical models of living systems. He has a track record of tackling some of the thorniest problems in cell biology. With his long-time collaborator Dr. Victoria Foe, Dr. Odell has created powerful cell biology research tools that harness the power of computers. He models in multiple dimensions the interactions among molecules and between cells that are critical for cellular activities such as growth and movement. Because these complicated interactions overwhelm traditional "reductionist" research approaches, a powerful way for scientists to understand the interactions and learn how to predict them is through computer modeling.
Dr. Odell's models have been working toward marrying biology's "parts list" with what scientists know about how cells work. In recent years, he has constructed mathematical models of two genetic networks in fruit fly embryos. One of these networks defines the fly's body plan by establishing the order of its body segments, and the other network creates the genetic "wiring diagram" that specifies all of the fly's nerves. Dr. Odell's results have demonstrated that the networks are remarkably robust, remaining stable despite fairly large fluctuations in each network's day-to-day operations.
Since 1986, Dr. Odell has been a professor in the Department of Zoology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He received a B.A. in engineering science in 1965 and a Ph.D. in theoretical fluid dynamics in 1972, both from The Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Odell's honors include a Guggenheim fellowship.
NIGMS support of Dr. Odell's research includes the new Center of Excellence in Complex Biomedical Systems Research at the University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratories on San Juan Island, Washington.
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