Nature Reviews Genetics 8, 331-340 (May 2007) | doi:10.1038/nrg2098

Biology by numbers: mathematical modelling in developmental biology

Claire J. Tomlin1 & Jeffrey D. Axelrod2  About the authors


In recent years, mathematical modelling of developmental processes has earned new respect. Not only have mathematical models been used to validate hypotheses made from experimental data, but designing and testing these models has led to testable experimental predictions. There are now impressive cases in which mathematical models have provided fresh insight into biological systems, by suggesting, for example, how connections between local interactions among system components relate to their wider biological effects. By examining three developmental processes and corresponding mathematical models, this Review addresses the potential of mathematical modelling to help understand development.

Author affiliations

  1. Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720, USA, and Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-4035, USA.
  2. Department of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305-5324, USA.

Correspondence to: Claire J. Tomlin1 Email:


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