About Mathematics in Medicine Study Groups

Mathematics in Medicine Study Groups (MMSGs) are workshops for interaction between mathematicians and academic and industrial experimentalists working within the life sciences.

The format of the meetings is based upon that of the successful Maths-in-Industry Study Groups that have been run for many years. Researchers from experimental and industrial laboratories are invited to present technical problems for study in working sessions with leading mathematicians from the academic community. Problems may come from a variety of subject areas, but should be amenable to mathematical modelling and analysis. In a week of brainstorming and mathematical modelling there is usually enough time to generate and assess many ideas for solving the problem, and usually some of the ideas are checked in more detail.

Meetings are generally held over a single week. On Monday morning, the problem presenters will each give a presentation on their problem to the whole group of mathematicians. The presentations each last for around 30–45 minutes, including questions form the audience. Once the presentations are complete, the mathematicians will break up into groups to work on the different problems. The group work occupies most of the time throughout the rest of the week, and the problem presenters usually stay in the groups for most of the time, to answer questions and be involved in the discussions.

Each person present chooses which problem they wish to work on, and are free to move from one group to another during the week. At some point mid-way through the week, everyone will reassemble together, and one or more members from each group will give a short presentation on the progress they have made so far, and what problems are outstanding. This provides an opportunity for others to provide input and may motive some people to swap groups.

Finally, on the Friday morning, each group provides a longer presentation (usually about half an hour) on the work their group has done. Questions can be asked, and afterwards the problem presenter is asked to comment on the group's achievements.

A full report of the Study Group's work on the problem is produced after the meeting. Follow up meetings may take place later to determine how to take the research further. The MMSGs have served to establish strong links between experimentalists and mathematicians.

The UK meetings tend to have 5 to 7 different problems, and around 60 mathematicians attending. The meetings are held in an open format, with problem descriptions and reports published on the web. The presenters and modellers must therefore be happy for their contributions to be published in this way.

Further information for …

Further information about …