IEEE International Conference on Sensing, Communication and Networking
11-13 June 2018 – Hong Kong



Title: Information processing principles for cell signalling and molecular communications

Chun Tung Chou

University of New South Wales


Abstract: You can view a living cell simply as a soup of chemical molecules, but a living cell can sense the environment, make decisions, repair itself, communicate with other cells and do many other amazing things. A central question in biology is to understand how cells can perform these functions. There are two angles that we can approach this question. We can look at it from the angle of biochemistry and identify all the chemical species, chemical reactions and transport mechanisms that realise these functions. Alternatively, we can look at it from an information processing perspective where cells use networks of chemical reactions (which are also known as molecular circuits) as the substrate to execute algorithms for computation and communication. Our premise is that if we can understand the algorithms that cells execute then it will also help us to engineer molecular communication. In this talk, we will show that there are common information processing principles that can be used to understand cell signalling as well as to engineer molecular communication. For cell signalling, we will focus on the coherent type-1 feedforward loop (C1-FFL) which is a molecular circuit that cells use to discriminate between signals of long and short durations. We show that we can understand C1-FFL by using statistical detection theory, time-scale separation and approximate molecular computation. We then use this understanding to design a molecular circuit that can demodulate concentration modulated signals in diffusion-based molecular communication. These results show that there is an exciting opportunity for engineers to use information processing concepts and methods to not only engineer molecular communication but also to contribute to understanding cell signalling.


Bio: Chun Tung Chou is an Associate Professor at the School of Computer Science and Engineering, the University of New South Wales, Australia. He received the BA degree in Engineering Science from the University of Oxford, UK and the PhD degree in Control Engineering from the University of Cambridge, UK. He is on the editorial board of IEEE Transactions on Molecular, Biological, and Multi-Scale Communications; IEEE Wireless Communications Letters and Nano Communication Networks. His research interests are in the communication and computing aspects of natural and synthetic bio-molecular systems.