Dr Fabian Spill PhD

Dr Fabian Spill

Lecturer in Applied Mathematics

Contact details

Address
School of Mathematics
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

Fabian Spill is a Lecturer in Applied Mathematics.

Fabian’s research is centred on various aspects of Mathematical Biology. From the mathematical side he is mainly interested in applications of stochastic models and various differential equations, from ODE’s to coupled bulk-surface reaction-diffusion systems. From the application side, he is interested in cancer biology, mechanobiology, and the dynamic interplay of cells and their microenvironment.

Qualifications

  • PhD Physics, Imperial College London, 2010
  • Diploma in Physics, Humboldt University Berlin, 2007

Biography

Fabian Spill studied physics and mathematics at Humboldt University, Berlin, graduating with a diploma in physics in 2007. He then completed a PhD in theoretical physics at Imperial College London in 2010, working on Yangians, integrable systems and string theory under supervision of Arkady Tseytlin. After a brief spell in finance, where he worked as a quantitative analyst developing and implementing mathematical models to price and risk-manage complex derivatives, he moved into mathematical biology. First, he joined the University of Oxford in 2012, working with Helen Byrne and Philip Maini. Then, he moved to the US in 2014, working with Roger Kamm and Muhammad Zaman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Boston University. He returned to Britain in 2017, starting his current position at the University of Birmingham.

Research

Fabian has diverse research interests in the field of mathematical biology. Currently, he is trying to understand how mechanical properties of the cells and their microenvironment influence cell behaviour through mechanosensing pathways. For instance, YAP/TAZ are two important intracellular molecules which increase their activity with increasing stiffness of the substrate on which the cells are attached too, and this can drive proliferation of these cells. In the context of tumours, which are often stiffer than comparable healthy tissues, this might imply that physical properties such as stiffness can drive tumour progression (such as uncontrolled proliferation), complementing well-studied genetic alterations in tumours.

Fabian is developing mathematical models of the YAP/TAZ regulating pathway to study how mechanical and molecular stimuli are integrated by cells to mediate their responses. Moreover, he is interested in understanding how the subcellular localisation of signalling molecules affects the outcome of signal integration. This is of importance far beyond mechanosensing pathways, as almost all pathways involve subcellular localisation of at least some important molecules, such as those binding to the cell membrane. This can be especially important when cells change their shapes, and thus the region of membrane/cytosol interactions changes. Consequently, otherwise identical cells with different shapes can behave differently, simply because of their altered geometry.

Fabian is also interested in the application of stochastic models to biology. He investigated how stochastic effects can change the behaviour of reaction-diffusion systems, developed methods to improve simulation efficiency of such systems, and applied such methods to biological systems including tumour angiogenesis or travelling wave problems. More recently, he investigated how stochastic effects can shift the evolutionary outcome of the in-vitro selection of oligonucleotides. This later system is used to identify molecules which have particular binding properties to diverse target molecules.  

Publications