Dr Eder Zavala PhD

Eder Zavala

Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research
MRC Research Fellow

Contact details

Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Eder Zavala is an MRC Skills Development Fellow jointly appointed across Mathematics, Computer Science, and the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research. His work focuses on interdisciplinary research spanning mathematics, physics, computer science, biology, biomedical and clinical sciences. In addition to his fellowship award, Eder has secured an ULTRADIAN EU Horizon 2020 secondment to revolutionise the diagnosis and management of endocrine conditions through the use of quantitative methods to analyse hormone rhythms. He has also established international partnerships between Mexico and the UK supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund, and by being co-awarded with a Royal Society Newton Mobility Grant together with other intra-institutional funding. His collaborations range from biomathematics, to healthcare technologies, to philosophy, and span 4 Russell Group UK universities, the University of California San Diego (UCSD), the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and the University of Bergen in Norway. Eder is also passionate about public engagement and science communication, speaking in events such as Pint of Science and organising workshops towards the development of communities where researchers, clinicians and patients work together to address current challenges in neuroendocrinology.

He is part of the Centre for Systems, Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine

Centre Twitter handle - https://twitter.com/SMQB_UoB

Innovating chronodiagnosis of endocrine conditions
Modelling inflammation after heart surgery


  • PhD in Molecular Biomedicine, 2012, CINVESTAV Mexico
  • MSc in Engineering and Biomedical Physics, 2008, CINVESTAV Mexico
  • BSc (Hons) in Physics, 2006, UANL Mexico


Eder is a physicist with a great passion for mathematical biology and biomedicine. While at graduate school at CINVESTAV, Mexico, his research interests revolved around mathematically modelling signalling pathways and gene regulatory networks, focusing on understanding how the topology of these networks influences their dynamics and robustness against noise. During his MSc in Engineering and Biomedical Physics, Eder developed mathematical models of self-regulated gene circuits, exploring how negative and positive regulatory feedback loops affect bacterial phenotypes. While doing his PhD in Molecular Biomedicine, he developed a mathematical model of a somitogenic regulatory network that considers the interactions between antagonistic gradients and genetic clocks that embryonic cells use as spatiotemporal cues to achieve robust, irreversible commitment to a developmental fate.

Later, while at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) in Japan, Eder investigated non-classic stochastic effects in gene expression and used advanced computational tools to simulate these processes at the single gene level. He also performed spatial stochastic simulations of asymmetric protein segregation in yeast and developed a Delayed Stochastic Simulation Algorithm with cell division (DSSAcd) to explore cell cycle effects in feedback-regulated gene circuits.

In 2015, Eder switched fields to apply his skills to the field of neuroendocrinology at the University of Exeter, working alongside professors John Terry and Stafford Lightman (FRS). Since then, Eder’s work has focused in developing a mathematical understanding of hormone dynamics in health and disease. This work lead to him securing an MRC Skills Development Fellowship to further his own research plans.


Eder is an applied mathematician interested in the dynamic regulation of stress, metabolism, fertility, sleep and inflammation. His goal is to develop a mathematical understanding of endocrine regulation that includes rhythmic hormone secretion, responses to stressors, and long-term physio-pathological changes. To do this, he works alongside clinicians, mathematicians and computer scientists to develop mathematical models and algorithms that offer testable predictions. His current work focuses on healthcare technologies for diagnosing and monitoring the progression of illness. To do this, he is developing a quantitative analysis of continuously-sampled 24h ambulatory micro-dialysis hormone profiles to identify novel dynamic biomarkers that signal disease more efficiently than current single time point diagnosis. Eder combines this with simultaneously-collected wearable device data (e.g. physical activity, heart rate, temperature, glucose, sleep structure and light exposure) to characterise human chronophysiology and personalise non-invasive diagnostics.

Research Groups and Centres

Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine (SMQB)

Other activities

Member of the Mexican National System of Researchers - Level 1 (2016-2018)


Google Scholar: Eder Zavala


Galvis D, Zavala E, Walker JJ, Upton T, Lightman SL, Angelini GD, Evans J, Rogers CA, Phillips K, Gibbison B. (2021) The dynamic interaction of systemic inflammation and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis during and after major surgery. bioRxiv doi:10.1101/2021.08.16.456512

Violaris IG, Kalafatakis K, Zavala E, Tsoulos IG, Lampros T, Lightman SL, Tsipouras M, Giannakeas N, Tzallas A, Russell GM. (2021) Modelling hydrocortisone pharmacokinetics on a subcutaneous pulsatile infusion replacement strategy in patients with adrenocortical insufficiency. Pharmaceutics 13(6):769.

Zavala E, Voliotis M, Zerenner T, Tabak J, Walker JJ, Li XF, Terry JR, Lightman SL, O’Byrne K, Tsaneva-Atanasova K. (2020) Dynamic hormone control of stress and fertility. Frontiers in Physiology 11:1457.

Kim DW, Zavala E, Kim JK. (2020) Wearable technology and systems modeling for personalized chronotherapy. CurrOpSysBio 21:9-15.

Zavala E, Gil-Gómez CA, Wedgwood KCA, Burgess R, Tsaneva-Atanasova K, Herrera-Valdez MA. (2020) Dynamic modulation of glucose utilisation by glucocorticoid rhythms in health and disease. bioRxiv doi: 10.1101/2020.02.27.968354

Zavala E, Wedgwood KCA, Voliotis M, Tabak J, Spiga F, Lightman SL, Tsaneva-Atanasova K. (2019) Mathematical modelling of endocrine systems. Trends Endo & Metab30(4):244-57.

Colombetti G, Zavala E. (2019) Are emotional states based in the brain? A critique of affective brainocentrism from a physiological perspective. Biol & Phil 34:45.

Spiga F, Zavala E, Walker JJ, Zhao Z, Terry JR, Lightman SL. (2017) Dynamic responses of the adrenal steroidogenic regulatory network. PNAS114(31):E6466-74.

Zavala E, Marquez-Lago TT. (2014) The long and viscous road: uncovering nuclear diffusion barriers in closed mitosis. PLoS Comp Biol10(7):e1003725.

Zavala E, Marquez-Lago TT. (2014) Delays induce novel stochastic effects in negative feedback gene circuits. Biophys J 106(2):467-78.

Zavala E, Santillan M. (2012) An analysis of overall network architecture reveals an infinite-period bifurcation underlying oscillation arrest in the segmentation clock. Math Mod Nat Phenom 7(6):95-106.

Zavala E, Santillán M. (2011) Oscillation arrest in the mouse somitogenesis clock presumably takes place via an infinite period bifurcation. arXiv 1108.0673.

View all publications in research portal